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Parks Canada / Geocaching Workgroup Updates

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Parks Canada / Geocaching workgroup update #1


The public submissions period ended, Dec. 31, 2005


A lenghtly discussion thread covers the lead-up and history of this issue, and can be found [here].


Since the end of the submission period, Parks Canada engaged in dialogue with Geocachers/Geocaching communities, and contacted a number of 'cachers from many of the regions, asking them to assist in the next phase of their policy development.


These are the groups Parks Canada is working with:

Maritime Geocaching Association

L'Association des Geocacheurs du Quebec

Ontario Geocaching Association

Manitoba Geocaching Association

Saskatchewan Geocachers


Calgary Area Cachers

British Columbia Geocaching Association

Volunteers from geocaching.com


The group is now in the process of collecting and reviewing relevant existing policies (over 50 exist worldwide), reviewing the public comments (anonymously -- personal information has been removed from the documents), and preparing for discussions with a Parks Canada team (selected for their interest in Geocaching). The overall idea is that we're all working from the same broad base of ideas (why re-invent the wheel), all working together to create an outcome that works for everyone.


The group members are committed to keeping both the Geocaching community here, and their own local communities, updated regularly.

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First, I would like to thank the working group for starting this topic. It shows a willingness to keep the process as transparent as possible and involve us all. That is very positive.


Second, we all should focus on the clearly very positive things here. Parks Canada by choosing a working group has indicated a willingness to develop a policy that will allow some form of geocaching. That is also evidenced by the process of looking at policies currently in existence. This is very heartening and we should be glad that this group and Parks Canada are taking such a pro-geocaching approach. Parks Canada could just have said no and walked away.


Finally, Keystone is correct that there is no point to arguing over membership. Parks Canada has made that decision and that is how it will work. Personally, I think the choices are very good ones and Volunteer reviewers from geocaching is very appropriate. The listings will go there afterall and they must be agreeable as any other party. I also want to say to Cache-Tech that your level headed handling of issues in the past gives me great confidence in you on this group and thank you (and all the others who will put in the hours) for your efforts. We all should support them, its the best way to get the positive result we all hope for.


Can't wait to hear how the process proceeds!




PS. If you want to know who your area rep is, it seems easy enough to me that you would write to your association directly.

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The posts after my post above to present have been split from this topic and can be found intact in a thread below.


After discussing this with the other reviewers involved (which is what I wanted to do before I listed anyone) I am providing the Geocaching.com volunteers involved with Parks Canada.



Cache Agent



We were invited by Parks Canada due to our experience with geocaching and with geocaching.com. We are not in these talks to dictate policy for Groundspeak, we are involved for much the same reason we volunteer for Geocaching.com, we love geocaching and want to contribute to the activity in Canada. I am not going into further details, the requested information has been provided with the consent of the reviewers involved. Thank you.



Edited by Cache-tech
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I will be involved in a conferrence call this Monday with representative of Parks Canada, to help set up the dates of the seminars, determining the needs of the group for location, equipment, transportation, and other related items.

Are these seminars going to be located anywhere other than Ontario? Is Parks Canada making any accomodations for members of the working group living outside of Ottawa? Or is this information still considered state secrets?

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The location has not been decided yet. While I am from Ontario, I am not favouring an Ontario location. The first meeting was in Quebec.


I would be leaning towards a central location, like Manitoba, if it was up to me. This would represent a neutral area in that the provinces that some people to perceive as the larger interests cannot be offended by the other 'winning'


It is up to Parks Canada to decide in my opinion, but if they ask... I'll be leaning towards a Prarie Province.


I can't see it being in Ontario since PC HQ is in Gattineau QC, might as well just go there.


Banff might be an option, since it is PC's biggest and best known park.


<_< The Blue Quasar


P.S. I have volleyball on Monday night's so I might not post till Tuesday....

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Having just completed the tele-conferrence call with Parks Canada, I can provide the following.


The proposed date for the workshop is May 4th to 6th, either Fri-Sat or Sat-Sun.


The location is still being reviewed but so far it is either Winnepeg or Ottawa.


Members from some external groups will be attending as well, although they must be invited by Parks Canada. This will be determined by Parks Canada and they will be arranging this. Some of the groups mentioned in the tele-conferrence were of an environmental nature and some with experience in Geocaching related activities. I am not at liberty to name these groups.


Parks Canada wishes to experience the hobby as a part of this workshop, to get an accurate perspecitive, under the guidance of experienced participants of the hobby. I recommended that the use of an established cache as opposed to a 'placed for the weekend' cache would be more beneficial.


There appears to be an indication that physical Geocaching will be permitted again, provided that it conforms with Parks Canada mandates. These concerns will be a focal point of discussions to ensure that all invloved are comfortable with the policy recommendations that will be generated.


I will be involved in a second tele-conferrence in the next few weeks. More info will be provided then.


Please understand that some aspects of the discussion are not available by request of some parties. I will answer what I can, but without permission from the facilitator I cannot discuss every nuance.


:laughing: The Blue Quasar

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Having just completed the tele-conferrence call with Parks Canada, I can provide the following.


The proposed date for the workshop is May 4th to 6th, either Fri-Sat or Sat-Sun.


The location is still being reviewed but so far it is either Winnipeg or Ottawa.

B) The Blue Quasar


Winnipeg??? :)


I would prefer Ottawa ... never been to the country's capital before ... I was hoping to take a couple of extra days and do some siteseeing/geocaching.


May 4/6 is OK with me.

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I’m late to this discussion but I’m fairly new to geocaching and only started wading through the forums a couple of days ago.


I’m sorry the public consultation window has ended. I’m a letter writer from way back. :D I hope that the letter sent on Dec 13 prompted many more geocachers to write in before the deadline. I wonder if PC is still monitoring the e-mail account. I might write anyway.


I’m probably committing some faux pas by addressing comments from a closed thread but here goes:


To the people who claim that losing 2.5% of our land mass for geocaching is no big deal, the big deal is the slippery slope. Provincial parks will look to the national park system. The city parks will look to the provincial parks. Pretty soon we’ll have nothing left but ugly urban micros. No offence intended to those who enjoy the stealth aspect of those types of caches :blink: Not generally my cup of tea, although I do currently have one in my sights for a lunch hour mission.


To the people who think it’s sad that others need a box of McCrap to visit our natural wonders, a valid point. I’ve been a long time park visitor and I will continue to visit whether I can geocache there or not. Unfortunately, my 4 year old son is a different story. Although we keep hikes short, and try to keep them interesting for him, he would still rather stay inside and play with his toys or watch TV. (As outdoor lovers, we’re rather horrified. :D ) We bought the GPS because of him. We figured treasure hunting would be the only thing to entice him off the couch. And sure enough, it works. He has a great time, with no whining or wanting to turn back. Of course he doesn’t want to turn back…he’d miss out on the treasure at the end of the trail! Virtual caches would be meaningless to him.


Besides, isn’t the point moot? I haven’t waded deep enough in the forums to understand why GC.com doesn’t allow virtual caches, even in locations where physical caches aren’t allowed – that’s a whole other argument – but apparently they don’t and they aren’t going to change their policy to accommodate our problems.


I find it annoying that PC isn’t going to announce a new policy until the summer. Another camping season wasted. When we were first considering buying a GPS, one of my first thoughts was how great it was going to be for camping. I figured there would be some fantastic cache sites in the parks and was looking forward to visiting them. Apparently I should have started this hobby a few years earlier. I don’t know why it takes so long for PC to form their final policy when they could quickly slap an interim ban on geocaching without any thought or consultation at all.


All that being said, I do find the straw man policy on the BC Parks thread, and the links on the OGA website to the current policies of Hamilton, Niagara, and the Royal Botanical Gardens to be very promising. If those land stewards can come up with reasonable compromises that don’t inhibit the sport unduly, than I have high hopes that Parks Canada will do the same.

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Having been out-of-touch over the past few months, let me add my sincere 'thanks' for all of you working diligently with PC to help define and implement a geocaching policy that works for everyone. My own vested interest lies mostly in the fact that our family cottage in Ontario is literally surrounded by a Provincial Park and, as such, we have no opportunity to geocache during our family vacations there. Obvious;y, we love to see a workable policy to change this! Just as important, however, is to open up further possibilities for responsible geocaching across the amazing land of ours. Good luck and thanks!

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Public Input Opportunity on the Parks Canada's Draft Policy for Geocaching


Members of Parks Canada staff and selected stakeholders from the Geocaching Community in addition to several non-government organization have created a draft policy regarding the activity of Geocaching, and addressing the management of this activity on the lands under the stewardship of Parks Canada.


At this point, Parks Canada is requesting an open public review across the nation of this newest draft, in order to ensure further opportunity for participants of the activity to contribute.


Please refer to the following website that is hosting the draft policy in the interim.


Draft Policy - Parks Canada - July 2006


This website contains the draft policy in PDF format which contains all pertenant information. There is also a Microsoft Word document containing the draft policy comment form. This form is included in the PDF as well.


Please refer to this website for information on how you may provide your feedback on this latest draft policy, as well as links to additional information hosted at Parks Canada's official website.


We cannot stress enough the importance of this process. It is the Geocaching community's opportunity to help ensure that any policy that is finalized was done so with our input. We have been afforded the respect of being able to help shape this policy, one that may have long term effects within Canada and possibly the rest of the world. As such it is in all of our best interests to approach this with open minds and an understanding that all participants have made some concessions to be able to bring forward a draft policy that respects the conditions under which we all are satistfied.


Please take this opportunity to illustrate how we as Geocachers can help protect our activity and respect the land owners that graciously allow us to enjoy their lands with as minimal impact as possible.

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Just as a suggestion. Some of the parks currently have events involving a compass and maps. Try the angle of suggesting a hybrid of that using GPS. Staff could set it up. This way they know where they are and what the inpact to the area would be. IF the park doesn't have a GPS I'm sure optimistic geocachers like myself would be glad to help! Once placed they don't need the GPS for the maintanence of the cache.


Even if it's not registered on geocaching.com it would be a step in the right direction. Then Cachers could go for a event and try out. Later on they could bring this on as part of the geocaching experience.


I was talking with one of the park wardens on my last trip to Silent Lake. He was rather keen and interested in geocaching since there is one currently within that park. I don't think it would be too hard to convince some of the park event co-ordinators.

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I think the interim policy from last Oct still in effect, http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/pc/poli/interim/geocaching_e.asp


Not sure though as our association had no representation and our info source went back to school


Just to sum up this answer... yes the interim policy is still in effect, and the draft policy is still being hammered out. With any luck, the policy will be out late spring to early summer. Keep your ears and eyes open.

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I've been asking for an update from Parks Canada since the policy was scheduled to be out a little while ago but still had to go to the final steps.


I don't really expect a reply this week since this is a key vacation week, but I'll try to call my contacts there.


Since there were supposed to be four or five 'pilot caches' placed for the launch of the policy, I hope that people aren't getting them listed without the local park knowing the real policy. Not saying people are cheating, but most Parks' staff have access to the proposed new policy but as far as I know it is not official yet.


:lol: The Blue Quasar

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Have any other provinces had any luck getting caches approved? Manitoba now has two placed by the Manitoba GeoCaching Association


Just Visiting



These two caches were both approved by Parks Canada staff using the draft policy.


Just Visiting is in a town site, and Kinosao is along a front country trail.


The MBGA had planned to have these caches published coincident with the PC GeoCaching policy release (and to subsequently promote the policy on our association’s web page) but it didn’t quite work out that way.


My understanding is the delay in the final policy release is due to the reassigning of staff to higher priority PC issues. I haven’t heard that there’re any problems with the policy.

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Having seen all of the preliminary work that has lead up to this policy I would like to think that any policy that is forthcoming in the next few weeks (based on that article) would be a great update to the interim policy.


Remembering that both groups were open to certain concessions as part of a cooperative discourse is something that everyone that Geocaches in Canada should pay attention to. My view was like when I got my license to drive. Even though I was qualified, my parents who owned the car still had the right to determine when I could use it and where I could go and who I could go with until they became comfortable with the idea. Basically we are stepping towards each other and that is a good thing.


Like Mr. Jager of Parks Canada, I too am not in a position to comment publicly about the full details of the upcoming policy but I can say that there is definitely a better acceptance of Geocaching than was illustrated in the interim policy. Considering also that in the USA, their National Parks System forbids all forms of Geocaching (even Virtuals) we as a group of enthusiasts have made good inroads to the policy makers that will hopefully have a cascade effect in the future.


:lol: The Blue Quasar

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Members of the working group received this e-mail from PC:


“We have sent our staff the new geocaching guidelines. The public launch is scheduled for September 28 - which will give our staff time to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and prepare for geocachers.


Thanks again for your great involvement in this activity. If you hear any comments about geocaching in one of Parks Canada's locations, please let me know. We are looking for feedback so we can improve our delivery of this activity over time.”


For my two-cents I think the policy is very fair and reasonable and attempts strongly to accommodate the desires of Geocachers while still protecting, and at the same time, showcasing the national parks.


Here’s a quote from the policy that caught my eye:


”… geocaching is embraced by Parks Canada at the national level…”


Look for a public policy announcement soon!

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Was there some aspect of ...

The public launch is scheduled for September 28 - which will give our staff time to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and prepare for geocachers.


that escaped your basic understanding? :laughing:


And apparently one of the people that received that email also can't keep their trap shut. :laughing: I don't recall seeing you sitting in a conference room for two straight days working with Parks Canada and other involved parties.


Perhaps there was a reason that it wasn't being released to the public yet... I wonder if it was give our staff time to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and prepare for geocachers :laughing:

Edited by The Blue Quasar
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I don’t think it’s any secret about the upcoming public launch and announcement of the new geocaching policy. At least it shouldn’t be considering that this affects all of us. They’ve had the policy drafted out for some time now and it’s pretty much what most of us expected, although I do think that they seriously failed to consider a number of key things in comparison to some of the rules that they laid out in their policy.


I’ve been shown the final copy and my friend in the federal government has absolutely no issues with sharing it. Many people already have access to it and I assume it is available for the asking. As you can see, a number of new caches have already been placed and approved by Parks Canada on their land.


Some highlights include:


--Caches must be accessible from the path or other public locations such as picnic areas.

--Hiders and seekers may not leave the path.

--Cache container must be approved by park staff.

--Caches should not contain trade items…only a logbook, pencil and any related information about the location. Travel Bugs are allowed.

--Park staff has final say related to any geocache within their parks.


I understand that they will be monitoring the geocaches within their boundaries and will reassess and make any recommendations for revisions to the policy as they deem necessary.


So after 3+ years, we have finally come to a resolution on this long drawn out issue. Was it worth the effort, and waste of time, resources and money to get this done? Only time will tell. Lets hope everything works out well for both us geocachers and the parks were we decide to place our caches in.

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The poster from St. Catharines, ON should show some manners - aren’t you representing your GeoCaching community? If there’s anything else you need to say to me I suggest a PM rather than cluttering up this thread. There’s nothing secret about how Canadians are permitted to enjoy their parks, and if you think this is some sort of a private policy then I suggest you’re working under a misguided assumption. It sounds like you’ve got some ownership of the policy and I would think you’d be happy to hear it’s finally being released.


I did not disclose specifics of the policy except to say it’s coming. This is the “Updates on the progress of the Parks Canada / GeoCaching workgroup” thread after all. Here in the MBGA, we had one representative to the working group, but many people discussed the policy as it developed, and we formulated our responses collectively. I, like many others, contributed feedback to the draft policy and enjoyed positive dialogue with Parks Canada staff.


Geocachers may not have got everything they wanted in the policy, but it seems like a pretty fair compromise to me. That’s just my opinion. The gist of it is, they want us in the parks and I for one look forward to finding more GeoCaches in National Parks.


Tim Turner (TurdleEggs)


Manitoba GeoCaching Association

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Hi all!


The "slip" of the information was made by me. I was not under the impression that this information was "top secret" as most or all of it was available on the Parks Canada web site.


I apologize if this has caused concerns, but I don't in the long run that it should/will be an issue.


Has this caused any undue issues in any of the groups across the country?


I take full responsibility for the leak, however I don't see the harm in this information appearing in this forum.



Past President, MBGA

Participant in the Parks Canada/Geocaching policy drafting.

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Well all I can say is that when I spoke to the main contact at Parks Canada I was told that the copy I was receiving was not to be shared. I asked for permission to discuss the content of the policy with one land management group that has been waiting for this, and my contact at Parks Canada gave me permission on the condition that they were told that it was not to be referred to or used until after September 28th.


Then two weeks later all of the participants received it again with the preface that it was to be released to the Parks Canada staff initially for their review before it was publicly released on September 28th. Assumedly this was to address any last minute concerns.


When I look back at some of the recent posts in this thread, it should have been obvious that Ed Jager of Parks Canada was not willing to reveal any of the content until the public release. My post as well suggested the same. This should have been confirmed when anyone that received it saw that it was not going to be released to the public until the 28th. Again, my contact at Parks Canada was quite clear on the point that it was not to be commented on in any form publicly.


Personally I had no intention of posting it at all because in my mind the face of geocaching in Canda is Cache-Tech, since CT has been the primary Canadian reviewer. CT should be the one to bring it forward, after all CT has had to be the one to give the bad news in the past, CT should get to give a good one too. Yes I am very happy to see that it will finally be released. And yes this version is a far better and more fair version than anything we saw along the way.


If I came off all cranky, perhaps now you know a little of the reason for it. Maybe I am overinvested in this whole matter, too passionate or attached. But perhaps the member from Ste Genevieve, MB should consider the impact of making statements so freely without considering the possible outcome, like delays, retraction, changes or other geocachers suddenly jumping on Parks Canada staff before they can prepare and the staff getting annoyed. Perhaps you haven't considered all of the background work involved for them when this becomes public.


It doesn't matter at this point, hopefully Friday will be a happy day for Geocachers in Canada and maybe it will kick start some other overdue discussions.

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I found out today that the policy will be available next week on the following web site: www.pc.gc.ca


They have also set up a contact email: geocache@pc.gc.ca


My understanding is that the policy is public already but the announcement isn't coming until Friday. It never occurred to me ask how they are making the announcement during our conversation.

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Thanks to the BC group for keeping it's members and others informed by posting the policy last week. This is the way it should be since it effects all of us in Canada and everyone has a right to know.


Nice web site layout BTW. Well done!


I just don't get how you can believe this. As everyone has stated, the policy was due to be released to the public on September 28th. Releasing it ahead of schedule shows a lack of respect and responsibility. Parks Canada was a sensitive issue and represented a the first time that they had involved the general population in their internal policy creation process.


It is not about keeping local Geocaching groups, provincial or territorial, advised of the policy. It is about respecting the instructions provided to those that were allowed to share in the advanced copy. I've already stated that many of us had this policy in hand seveal weeks ago, and every participant that attended the weekend seminar from Parks Canada received it on the same date. Some chose to follow the instruction of the email to the letter and others didn't and apparently chose to jump the gun so to speak.


Naturally every group should be advised of new policy releases, as they become official.


:huh: BQ

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I just don't get how you can believe this. As everyone has stated, the policy was due to be released to the public on September 28th. Releasing it ahead of schedule shows a lack of respect and responsibility. Parks Canada was a sensitive issue and represented a the first time that they had involved the general population in their internal policy creation process.


It is not about keeping local Geocaching groups, provincial or territorial, advised of the policy. It is about respecting the instructions provided to those that were allowed to share in the advanced copy. I've already stated that many of us had this policy in hand seveal weeks ago, and every participant that attended the weekend seminar from Parks Canada received it on the same date. Some chose to follow the instruction of the email to the letter and others didn't and apparently chose to jump the gun so to speak.


Naturally every group should be advised of new policy releases, as they become official.


:huh: BQ

Am I not entitled to my beliefs because they appear to be questioned right now and I don't like that. I do respect you as a cacher and you have some very unique and well thought out caches which I enjoy and also the fact that you have your beliefs and interpretations of what is told to you. Your belief was that the policy should have remained private until it was officially announed, and that is fine, however many others, myself included, believe otherwise. Us geocachers are a community here and in some part you and other heads of provincial geocaching organizations and a few select others in our community were chosen to represent the us in working out a policy with Parks Canada, and by that you (and any of our representatives) have a responsibility of keeping us informed and not keeping secrets. First I don't think there is absolutely no surprise at all to anyone about what the new policy says. It is pretty much what we all knew already and expected...certainly no secrets there, so it really isn't a big deal. And you certainly can't tell me that you didn't discuss the policy with your wife, framily, other oga execs or even perhaps your close friends...of course I don't know for sure, but if it was me I know I would keep my close family in the loop of something I was involved in.


I've said it years ago, I've thought it while I was part of the oga exec, and I say it again now. I hate the all of secrets and double standards...especially when it potentially effects me or the community that I am apart of. You realize that you said that the policy shouldn't be made public until the announcement was made incase there were some last minute updates...well as of this time, no official announcement as far as I can see has been made by Parks Canada (nor do I or you know how/when/if they will make this announcement today or another day (I have been told directly that the policy will not be available on the Parks Canada web site until next week)...we only know what we have been told so far). In addition you also said you had no intention of posting the policy and if anyone should it would be cache-tech, but you just posted it publically about 1.5 hours ago on both the oga-talk and also the oga forums. Note that I am glad you posted it as our members and the members of the community have a right to know (that is my belief and I know it differes from your's). Again, there was nothing really private or surprising about the policy...the whole secretive thing is just being blown out of proportion.


I have lots of opinions about the actual policy itself, mostly positive and it looks like it was long overdue. Glad it's finally here and official and I know I'll be watching how the geocaching pans our in the parks. Too bad we don't have any national parks in our area. Anyways, policy good, secrets bad.

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The new policy issued for released today has been added to the pinned Canadian Geocaching Land Manager policies topic and a new thread for this topic has been started to. As to the release of this policy, I was asked to hold it for release until today which is what I done. Now the policy has been released, I am going to close this update thread. Thank you to all for your participation.

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