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Ontario Parks Is Wrong to Close Climbing

In the wake of a new closure at Devil's Glen, a survey from the Ontario Alliance of Climbers hopes to shed light on the value of rock climbing

For decades, Ontario climbers have dealt with access issues along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to the Bruce Peninsula. Of the dozens of rock climbing areas, most are currently closed or have restricted access. One of the areas that was recently closed is Devil’s Glen near Collingwood. Climbers found that Ontario Parks had screwed several signs to trees noting that certain parts of Devil’s Glen are now closed.

While many of the rock climbing areas along the Escarpment are on private property, others are on Crown Land or are in an Ontario Park. Under Ontario’s provincial parks: general provision (which you can find here), it’s said that “no person shall rappel or climb rock faces in a provincial park with or without the aid of ropes, anchors or similar equipment except in an area designated by the superintendent for that purpose.” In practice, it has led to the banning of climbing from Ontario Parks, many of which have traditions of climbing that go back half a century or more. Many parks that ban climbing allow hunting and at least one park that bans climbing allows commercial logging. These are public lands, and it’s unfair that tax-paying, often locally resident climbers, are banned, when high impact sportspeople and commercial resource extraction concerns enjoy access to the lands they help conserve with their taxes.

The Ontario Alliance of Climbers has been in ongoing talks with representatives for Devil’s Glen Provincial Park, who until this spring had allowed climbers to use the area. There is no reason given as to why Devil’s Glen access has been shuttered. The sudden closure caught everyone off guard.

Part of the OAC’s fight to get access reopened at Devils Glen is a survey that any climber can fill out. The goal is to show Ontario Parks that climbers add to local communities and have an economic value. You can fill out the survey here and be sure to follow the OAC below for updates.