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When working with government officials the most important thing is to understand the limitations that they work under. Those are codified in the applicable legislation first and then policies and regulations that flow from the legislation most of which have to approved at cabinet. They have no choice but to follow these. Both provincially and federally the first thing in the legislation is protection of the environment and the provincial legislation say that this takes precedence over other activities and the federal legislation says no person shall damage any flora etc.

 

The problem for geocaching is that there is no group with the authority to supervise and enforce the policy and that’s what the government people need to see. The best strategy is to approach them with ways in which the sport (activity/game) can work with them to ensure that any problems that occur with caches can be dealt with. This means realistic proposals on how problematic caches will be removed and how caches in parks will be supervised to identify damage to the site's ecology and remedy it. Saying that’s the responsibility of the park staff will not fly. A statement that the cache owner will be asked to move it does not ensure that it will be done. Geocaching associations have to show how they will actively govern their sport.

 

The development of the OGA and other groups is a good start but will have to have more clout to convince the officials that they can get problems dealt with. The activity will have to be more like the Bruce Trail or Ganaraska Trail associations or even the Snowmobile clubs who provide supervision of their activities and address concerns continuously.

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Great comments there.

 

Probably could have worked too, but they refused to give us any opportunity.

 

It's easy to say 'you have to explain to them....'

 

But when they promised to talk to you BEFORE creating any policy and then make you wait nearly two years and ignore repeated requests to consult with them, then ultimately dump a poorly written document full of discrimination and outrageous statements that no one could hope to enforce....

 

Believe me, this is not the way anyone wanted this to be handled.

 

I still hope to work with Ontario Parks to correct this whole fiasco, but they have established a bad foundation with the way they handled Geocaching policy.

 

Ontario Provincial Parks will end up just like New York State parks unless two key things change...

 

1... They need to evolve much faster than they do now, timelines are far too long for this age of information and change. If any group holds on to outdated ideals and resists change, they usually become extinct.

 

2... They need to be much more thorough in their investigation of issues, and learn what they are working on. Information is paramount to respect and development. With poor research, information and analysis comes faulty decisions, poor perception and if left unchecked, ultimately failure occurs.

 

I hope that Ontario Parks can drop this so-called "Hate-On" that they are projecting from their admin staff. It doesn't seem that their park staff agree with them either. Probably because the park staff want people to visit more, which in turn makes it easier to justify tax dollars be directed to park services.

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When working with government officials the most important thing is to understand the limitations that they work under. Those are codified in the applicable legislation first and then policies and regulations that flow from the legislation most of which have to approved at cabinet. They have no choice but to follow these. Both provincially and federally the first thing in the legislation is protection of the environment and the provincial legislation say that this takes precedence over other activities and the federal legislation says no person shall damage any flora etc.

I don't buy that... As a policy advisor for the Ontario PC Party I can tell you their hands are not as tied on something like this as you might think. THERE IS NO LEGISLATION OR REGULATION COVERING THIS - Enviromental protection is one thing, but there is room for hobbies to work within that framework. I snowmobile, ATV and boat regularly - these hobbies are accepted and have a WAY greater enviromental impact.

 

There is however career public servants who are afraid to take risks of any sort :laughing: There a whole load of people at MNR who would rather just ignore this or give it a simple response. That is what you've seen here.

 

OGA has the right to be mad at this AND YOU ALL SHOULD BE MAD AT THIS... There is a no virtual policy at the moment and if virtuals ever come back it will be TIGHT to get one approved.

 

Our hobby is about things like CITO, and being enviromentally mindful. There is more to it then that, and all of us here are responsible in how we take part in this hobby.

 

The simple fact remains here.. these are OUR lands, this is a ministry that serves US. We need to step this up. We need to hound the minister, we need to talk to our MPPs, we need to educate those in charge so we don't ever see an UNIFORMED response to one of querries again.

 

David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources) is a decent guy, and an approachable politician. We could also discuss this with Tourism and Rec (Minister Bradley - someone I can't give you any thoughts on as I've never had any dealings with him) as it does have an impact there.

 

So where do we go from here.. that is up to all of us as a community. I'm willing to work on this.... you know where to find me :unsure:

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OGA has the right to be mad at this AND YOU ALL SHOULD BE MAD AT THIS... There is a no virtual policy at the moment and if virtuals ever come back it will be TIGHT to get one approved.

 

Actually, I am because I do believe that the hobby can exist properly and peacefully in the parks and yes the policies should reflect that and yes Ontario Parks should try to listen first.

 

And you are right about the other activities that are potentially worse. But as my last paragraph said our geocaching sport is relatively new (this is a sport in its infancy afterall) and it will take a while to gain the same kind of clout that groups that have been around for a long time enjoy. History shows that many (most?) new groups struggle to get started and the first reaction of a lot of people to something new is often to try to prevent it or at least over control it out of fear of what they don't know. More power to the OGA for trying and I hope they succeed.

 

My post was an attempt to say I'm willing to help out with that effort and if my experiences working within a civil service (not the Ontario MNR by the way) can help with strategies then I'm willing to share those. I believe that the more you know about how your opponent thinks the more successful you will be. We're all on the same side in this.

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But when they promised to talk to you BEFORE  creating any policy and then make you wait nearly two years and ignore repeated requests to consult with them

This would appear to be going on a lot longer than I realized. The fact that they promised to talk before creating a policy is something to be angry about and the Minister should be unhappy with that. Ontario is supposed to be about customer service and someone looks like they've forgotten that. If you haven't you might want to make the Minister aware of that broken promise.

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forgive me if i am repeating already posted questions but I just became aware it was an issue and was curious...

 

In order to geocache inside a provincial park I have to pay a 10 dollar fee (that is per vehicle so when my friend and I go out on Motorcycle we pay 20 dollars) If we were not out geocaching we would likely not enter the park. fiscally, how is this a bad thing. Also the whole CITO thing. geocachers seem to me to be people with outdoor appetites and environmental bent. how is inviting them into the park were they might do something like clean up some trash, report trail conditions, and encourage the use of OUR parks be a bad thing?

 

bwmick

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Okay, I admit it I am a question guy, I ask lots of questions in hopes that someone will come to the same conclusion about a topic that I already have. so here are my questions.

 

Who is in charge of the MNR's park program (not the minister the beaurocrat in charge)?

 

Would Geocaching not be something that should be looked at within the framework that was set up several years ago to allow forestry and mining inside parks (talk about your environmental nightmares)?

 

what are the reasons that are being given, and at what level are they being given(middle management or director level)?

 

Are their arguments valid. or do we know what their arguments are?

 

thanks for letting me get all my questions out now. the people at work can breath a litttle easier.

 

Bwmick

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The Policy as posted is all we have to go on right now.

 

We had a date for a meeting, but honestly, it was a week or two after the policy was released and we (OGA) simply didn't have enough time to prepare so we asked for a summer meeting

 

I do not have that date, and to the best of my knowledge we still have had no contact with Ontario Parks.

 

So all we have is the Policy or BAN that they sent to Cache-Tech.

 

I know nothing else at this time.

 

 

It is easy for us informed people to see the good side of Geocaching, wish it was that easy for these Government types. I just don't know where they got all this bad info from.

 

I just don't get it why these Government groups are targeting Geocaching as some terrible Eco-invasion.

 

OGA - Admin

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I am in the process of writing to my MLA to ask her to go caching with me. I think that this may be a way to let our representatives see what we mean by geo caching. all the letters in the world will let them know that there are people who do it and enjoy it. taking them out to experience it will teach them what it is really about.

 

In that vein, have we offered to take any of the park authority out for a test run?

 

bwmick

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I am in the process of writing to my MLA to ask her to go caching with me. I think that this may be a way to let our representatives see what we mean by geo caching. all the letters in the world will let them know that there are people who do it and enjoy it. taking them out to experience it will teach them what it is really about.

 

In that vein, have we offered to take any of the park authority out for a test run?

 

bwmick

Yes, Ontario Parks was taken out for a cache after which they removed the cache. :)

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I am in the process of writing to my MLA to ask her to go caching with me.  I think that this may be a way to let our representatives see what we mean by geo caching.  all the letters in the world will let them know that there are people who do it and enjoy it.  taking them out to experience it will teach them what it is really about.

 

In that vein, have we offered to take any of the park authority out for a test run?

 

bwmick

Yes, Ontario Parks was taken out for a cache after which they removed the cache. ;)

To be fair, one person from the Parks staff was very enthusiastic about geocaching & thought about buying a GPS so he could take his family. The Park superintendant thought it was a fairly harmless activity, but chose to remove the cache anyway. I still don't understand where the pressure came from to come up with the policy that they chose. They were given contacts for the Conservation Authorities that had positive responses to geocaching and examples of other organizations pro-geocaching policies. I was floored when I read the policy. It was not what I was expecting at all.

 

-Donna G

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just received an online survey from ontario parks about a recent stay in one of their facilities. took the opportunity provided at the end of the survey to question their geocaching policy, doubt it will mean much but maybe...

 

bwmick

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This past weekend, we were able to meet with Ontario Parks. In attendance was members of the Ontario Geocachers Association along with myself and another GC.com volunteer reviewer, Cache agent. The meeting went well, we were only to meet for about 2 hours but the meeting lasted over 3 hours. Many different points were brought our concerning the benifits of geocaching, examples given on the effects of a cache placed since 2001 with also information concerning a recent event at an Ontario Parks location, interaction with staff and number of paying attendies.

 

We feel the meeting went well, Ontario Parks has a list of caches they feel are in sensitive areas, they are looking at these caches first. We have asked for the caches in non-sensitive locations to be left to continue to observe the effects of Geocaching within Ontario Parks. Currently new caches are still not to be listed within the parks. Since they have asked that no new caches to be listed, we have complied with the request, this has shown that if they do develop a policy on geocaching, we can abide by the policy.

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Is Ontarioparks or MNR now removing caches from Algonquin park?

 

GC82F0 , GC1444, GC8046 have been reported not found in the past couple of weeks.

 

These caches have been in their hiding spots for a couple of years.

 

In no way am I accusing MNR of removing these caches, I just find it strange that these low traffic caches, in a disputed area all go missing at the same time.

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Is Ontarioparks or MNR now removing caches from Algonquin park?

 

GC82F0 , GC1444, GC8046 have been reported not found in the past couple of weeks.

 

These caches have been in their hiding spots for a couple of years.

 

In no way am I accusing MNR of removing these caches, I just find it strange that these low traffic caches, in a disputed area all go missing at the same time.

The last one you listed has been missing for awhile now, the other 2 would be recent, to bad there were Travel Bugs in both. I have not been informed of any recent removals, I requested that they place Request Archive logs when they do remove them to save cachers the trip. I will ask about the caches.

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We have camped at 5 different ontario parks this season, some of them had geocaches and some of them didn't. When they were absent from the park it didn't really affect our enjoyment of the park, however it certainly increased the enjoyment when they were present.

 

It recently occured to us that we are addressing this topic from the head down, why not address it from the bottom up as well? Every person who uses the ontario parks system is given a permit, on the back of that permit is a comment card. The park managers and staff do actually read these cards when they open the expired permit box at the exit of the park. I don't think it would hurt for us as a community to make some sort of comment on the back while visiting these parks in regards to geocaching. In so far as respectfully saying please allow geocaching in ontario parks, maybe writing a link to the debate or even geocaching, Groundspeak.

 

Petitions and talks are great, but could we help our cause by showing them we are "paying" customers? Sure if there is actually a geocache in the park it could "wake the sleeping giant" and in these situations it may not be a good idea. But in a park where there is not one, could it really hurt? If more parks staff new about geocaching this could assist us in our battle. Many of these staff members are much like us, they enjoy spending time in the outdoors.

 

If we get them on our side it could help in some unforeseen ways. The right person at the right time on the "inside" could help this situation a great deal.

 

Just wondering if anyone else thinks this is a good or bad idea.

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In a effort to keep the Geocachers of Ontario aware of the items that The Ontario Geocaching Association are doing on behalf of the Geocaching community...

 

Since we (OGA) met with a representative of Ontario Parks, we have not heard of any changes to the current ban on all forms of Geocaching within Ontario Parks controlled areas. In fact we have not heard anything at all, except for the removal of several Geocaches by Ontario Park Rangers.

 

We are however gathering a list of groups from across this province that support, encourage, promote and utilize Geocaching to draw attention to their lands or provide recreational activities that promote family, health and/or general enjoyment for the people that frequent their lands.

 

Many cities now have Geocaching activities in place, or list places that you can Geocache.

 

Additionally, the Government of Ontario has an initiative of ACTIVE 2010, which seems to promote the health of Ontarians through activities like hiking and others.

 

We would like to expect that Ontario Parks will revisiting their ban, and will be contacting us (OGA) to develop a much improved policy that allows physical Geocaching, even if in a limited form.

 

It is vital that the Geocaching community ensures that the Executive at Ontario Parks passes along accurate policies and instruction to their staff. It serves no one's interest if Ontario Parks Rangers are making decisions for themselves as to the removal of Geocaches.

 

It is evident by the current ban that Ontario Parks believes in a Province wide approach to Geocaching. With that in mind, we must make sure that Park Level staff are aware of their limitations regarding said ban, and hopefully when a Geocaching-Friendly policy is created, that all levels of Ontario Parks is able and willing and aware of how to work with the Geocaching community.

 

There may come a time when the Geocaching community might need to petition the Government, and to protect the hobby we all love, the community needs your support. Together, we can do great things, but as individuals even great things can be ignored by those that do not wish to try.

 

If you would like to suggest methods to make changes to the Ontario Parks Ban on Geocaching... please post notes here, and join our group at The Ontario Geocaching Association, and sign the online petition at Keith Watson's site Golden Horseshoe Geocachers.

 

While an online petition might not be accepted by Ontario Parks, it does help create a list of concerned parties, as does joining the OGA.

 

So, join up for both, as it appears that we are going to need to start doing more to convince Ontario Parks that the Geocaching community is not willing to accept anything less than being allowed to place Geocaches and enjoy the lands that we help pay for.

 

OGA - Admin

 

edit: URL typo

Edited by OGA - Admin

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except for the removal of several Geocaches by Ontario Park Rangers.

 

Forgive me if this has already been stated, but have the removed caches been removed from the geocaching.com site?

 

And is it possible to get a complete list of all the removed caches.

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I thought I would give somebody else a chance to reply, but no one has so...

 

Yes it is possible to get a list of all of the Geocaches that were at one time in an Ontario Provincial Park, and have been removed.

 

I have a list of most of the Archived caches for all of Ontario (I like to think all, but there are a few I bet that I've missed)

 

They are posted on our site, in the Sales and Service section (a new area that is far from complete).

 

OGA - Sales and Service

 

For a specific list, it will take me some time to filter out the ones that were in Ontario Provincial Parks, but I hope to for the start of next year.

 

As for your other question... yes, the Geocaches have been Archived on the Geocaching.com site and according to most accounts, the containers have been removed.

 

;) The Blue Quasar

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This article appears in todays Toronto Star. Funny how, according to MNR/Ontario Parks, kilometers of logging roads seem to be ok for the enviroment, but a few geocachers straying 10 meters off a trail will cause irreparable harm.

Logging roads criss-cross Algonquin

8,000 kilometres inside park lands MNR map doesn't

 

reveal full network

 

COLIN PERKEL

CANADIAN PRESS

 

Despite its reputation as a vast untapped wilderness area, two environmental groups say they have discovered that Ontario's Algonquin Park actually has four times as much logging road as it does canoe trails.

 

The estimated 8,000 kilometres of roads, usually hidden from view and closed to the public, are detrimental to the area's habitat and run counter to the park's wild and pristine image, the groups say.

 

"If this was called the Algonquin Industrial Zone, it would be reasonable to be doing this, (but) it's called a park because it's supposed to be protected," said Evan Ferrari, director of the Wildlands League.

 

An official map of the park produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund shows only about 1,300 kilometres of primary and secondary roads.

 

A more detailed map obtained by the Wildlands League reveals a network of logging roads through much of the park, about three-quarters of which has already been logged.

 

"For every kilometre of canoe route in Algonquin Park, there are more than four kilometres of road," said Anastasia Lintner, a lawyer with the defence fund.

 

That would mean there are more kilometres of road in the 765,000-hectare park than in the city of Toronto, or running between Halifax and Vancouver.

 

Environmentalists say the logging roads — about 20 metres wide to accommodate heavy equipment — have a "huge" impact on the eco-system because of the habitat fragmentation they cause.

 

"We completely change the plants and animals that are in an area once we continue to cut up the forest," said Ferrari.

 

In last week's throne speech, the Liberal government promised legislation to "ensure our precious provincial parks are protected forever."

 

Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay said in an interview he had no plans to end logging in Algonquin Park as the environmentalists want.

 

"Historically, Algonquin Park area has been a mixed-use area," he said in an interview. "That's just the way it's been."

 

Environmentalists worry that logging interests in Algonquin, considered the jewel in Ontario's parks system, will win the day and end up destroying the park completely. They want Ramsay to order a comprehensive review of all impacts of logging.

 

"We can't stop logging tomorrow and throw people onto the street," said Ferrari. "(But) how do we make that a park instead of an industrial zone?"

Edited by panhandlephillips

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After reading the posts here, it seems clear that Ontario Parks officials don't want any form of "orgnaized" hiking or enjoyment of/in Ontario parks.

 

The posts here concerning the "no notice/no consultation/no reply" from Ontario Parks and their unannounced release of a draft policy paper without further consultation and discussion with OGA (the "blind siding), is clearly an attempt to restrict organized access and all but quashes geocaching in Ontario Parks.

 

That principle is mute given the newspaper article about the accessive and blatant logging and logging roads in Agonquin Park. Clearly Ontario Parks wants it both ways -- Big-Bucks from industry, while restricting public access so the public doesn't find out what's really going on in our parks.

 

Obviously, if OGA (geocachers) can't pay a couple million bucks a year to Ontario Parks (like the logging industry), geocaching doesn't get access -- pure and simple.

 

Hmmm... do you think we have another democrate government (and its agencies/departments) operating under the principles of dictatorship?

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Lately I've been pondering this whole Ontario Parks hoopla, and I think we all need to seriously change our attitudes. Saying all these bad things about the park rangers and ministry employees is only going to create bad feelings and make things worse.

 

I believe everybody can agree that geocaching is a good thing. Everything we have been saying about CITO, introducing children to the outdoors, and bringing more visitors to the parks is perfectly true. I even think the parks believe that. But these good things about geocaching are outweighed by the bad things about geocaching, which is why Ontario Parks has developed its current policy.

 

Ontario Parks has told us what their concerns are, and we need to address them. It's as simple as that. If we can come up with satisfactory solutions to the problems they have with geocaching, I think Ontario Parks might be more open to allowing geocaching on their lands. Here are some of my ideas.

 

1) Liability. There has to be some official, binding contract stating that Ontario Parks will not be held liable if somebody gets injured or killed while geocaching. What if geocachers actually signed such a contract? Ontario Parks could supply geocaching.com with a list of names of people who have signed waivers of liabilty, and geocaching.com could make sure that only those authorized people can download the coordinates of caches in Ontario Parks. It would be kind of like our current system for "members only" caches.

 

2) Environmental damage. All it takes is one person who hasn't read the clues for a cache to wander all over the place, turning over rocks and trampling vegetation. But even if everybody is well behaved, then just four or five people walking along the same route will create a "social trail." The parks don't want that, so we can't do it. We have to put our geocaches right on the trail. I guess we could put them in a hollow tree on the side facing away from the trail, but the parks don't want us to leave the trails. We either follow their rules, or we don't geocache on their lands.

 

3) Inappropriate behaviour. The parks are worried about people putting porn, booze, or worse inside of caches. What if caches in Ontario Parks had no trading items at all, just a logbook? I believe this was originally Cache-tech's idea, and it sounds like a good one to me. The parks also get annoyed when geocachers use unofficial park entraces or otherwise break park rules (for example, skinny dipping to get to an island cache). I don't have a good answer to this one. Maybe in addition to signing the waver of liability, we could sign a statement saying we had read the park rules and agree to abide by them.

 

4) More work for park staff. Doing all the paperwork to authorize geocaches and the legwork to check up on them is going to mean more work for the park staff. We have to agree to do as much of this work for them as we can. All our caches must be inspected regularly, and if an issue is reported in a cache log, it must be addressed immediately. Maybe only geocachers who had proven themselves to be responsible cache owners should be given permission to place caches in Ontario Parks.

 

Well, that's all I have to say for now. I may have overlooked some important key concepts or made some incorrect assumptions. I'm just trying to help, and I hope this is a good starting point for a real solution. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome.

 

Hoover

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1) Liability. There has to be some official, binding contract stating that Ontario Parks will not be held liable if somebody gets injured or killed while geocaching.

That's ridiculous. Do hiking groups need liability contracts before they're allowed to use the parks? Of course not. Neither should geocachers.

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1) Liability. There has to be some official, binding contract stating that Ontario Parks will not be held liable if somebody gets injured or killed while geocaching.

That's ridiculous. Do hiking groups need liability contracts before they're allowed to use the parks? Of course not. Neither should geocachers.

Are you saying you would want to hold Ontaio Parks liable if you injured yourself while geocaching in provincial park?

 

One of the main reasons Ontario Parks has developed its current policy about geocaching is that they don't want to be held liable if we injure ourselves. Do you have any suggestions for what we could do to make them less worried about being held liable?

 

Hoover

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1) Liability. There has to be some official, binding contract stating that Ontario Parks will not be held liable if somebody gets injured or killed while geocaching.

That's ridiculous. Do hiking groups need liability contracts before they're allowed to use the parks? Of course not. Neither should geocachers.

Are you saying you would want to hold Ontaio Parks liable if you injured yourself while geocaching in provincial park?

 

One of the main reasons Ontario Parks has developed its current policy about geocaching is that they don't want to be held liable if we injure ourselves. Do you have any suggestions for what we could do to make them less worried about being held liable?

 

Hoover

And I'm saying ... Ontario Parks can't be held liable for any other activity if we injure ourselves (i.e. hiking, boating, etc.), so exactly what makes geocaching different in this regard? Is geocaching somehow inherently more dangerous than hiking?

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And I'm saying ... Ontario Parks can't be held liable for any other activity if we injure ourselves (i.e. hiking, boating, etc.), so exactly what makes geocaching different in this regard? Is geocaching somehow inherently more dangerous than hiking?

My assumption that Ontario Parks could be held liable was based on the part of their geocaching policy that says "Management of geocaching is necessary due to public safety and liability issues..." Am I wrong to assume this? Why do you say they cannot be held liable?

 

Do you have any suggestions for what we could do to make them less worried about being held liable?

Edited by Hoover and Root

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And I'm saying ... Ontario Parks can't be held liable for any other activity if we injure ourselves (i.e. hiking, boating, etc.), so exactly what makes geocaching different in this regard? Is geocaching somehow inherently more dangerous than hiking?

My assumption that Ontario Parks could be held liable was based on the part of their geocaching policy that says "Management of geocaching is necessary due to public safety and liability issues..." Am I wrong to assume this? Why do you say they cannot be held liable?

 

Do you have any suggestions for what we could do to make them less worried about being held liable?

Is Ontario Parks worried about hikers or boaters or campers holding them liable for injury or death? What makes geocaching so different from those activities that Ontario Parks would have to be worried about a rash of geocaching-related lawsuits versus hiking/camping/boating lawsuits?

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Ok Folks -- Hoover and Root said to stop, take a deep breath, and think a second -- and that includes H-n-R. :D

 

Yes, maybe we are being a little too harsh on the Rangers who do a super job and get paid little for it. However, they act politically when they need to, and not all their polical actions are of their doing -- it comes down from their ministry and Queen's Park. :rolleyes:

 

The last few posts here have discussed both sides of the "law suit/waiver issue" and seem to be polarized -- even though both sides have what seem to be reasonable concerns. :D

 

I have visited Algonquin Park on and off since from the early 1960's to the mid 1980's and have never had to "sign a waiver" to go on two week canoe-trips -- and I'm not aware of other groups in society who have had to either. This "waiver business" is nothing more than a smoke screen by the ministry to stop Geocaching in parks because they see Geocaching as large groups of people trampling all over "their parks."

 

First -- there are already "large groups of people" hiking and canoing in the parks -- and many do not stick to the prepared trails -- they go "exploring" off the beaten path because that is the nature of man-kind -- to explore -- to experience and see new things -- to go where others have not -- to discover for yourself. I've encountered people way-way off normal trails while walking along rocky shorelines or cliffs in Algonquin, so for "the parks" to say geocachers would be the only ones "stepping off the trials" is rediculous. (a feeble excuse that doesn't hold in the light of day)

 

Second -- these are not "their parks" -- they are "our parks" -- belonging to the people of Ontario. Granted the rangers have been given the authority to look after them, but the parks are still "the people's" (yet, why is it the parks have for years been allowing the logging industry to rape our parks -- becasue the "public entrance fees" charged by the parks do not cover the cost of patroling/maintaining the parks. Clearly, they have taken a hard stand because "they don't want to give up any ground/or money" in trying to protect "their parks." I can agree to a certain extent -- give an inch and someone will always take a mile -- but that happens with anything human. Although, I think most geocachers do have some common sense -- we aren't jumping off cliffs with parachutes...... in the middle of nowhere. (as an example)

 

Third -- the issue of rescues is a serious concern -- (I know, my career was in Emergency Services) and those people that need paramedics because of stupidity should pay the total cost of those medical treatments and rescues ($10-30-50,000.) when they have broken the rules and strayed off the trails and campsites. Too many people think they can go anywhere -- do anything -- without any consequences -- except a skinned knee or elbow -- WRONG.

 

The "extreme sports" are getting all the tv time and the young kids think its cool to do wild and crazy things. It's the media images (driven by advertising dollars) that fuels the stupidity and non-thinking-knee-jerk-reactions in this world. If we need warning signs posted every ten feet to state "don't do this-and-that," whats the sense of having parks filled with "DO NOT DO" signs and no people. "Parks" have to realise they can't be responsible -- every second -- for every single person who enters a park -- there aren't enough rangers for a "one-on-one" chaperon plan - just like their aren't enough police and paramedics to follow people around for protection. B)

 

However, I do believe geocahcers have been targeted because their "sport/activity" -- in many cases -- takes them "off the trail" to hide and hunt caches. There is something to be said for virtual caches (on the trails?) in parks with just a log book, and I could live with that, however, the problem is finding a nice spot and protecting the cache log. B)

 

If you look at some of the trinkets/stuff (crap/garbage) left in caches, its a wonder this sport has grown at all. It's only because of the "treasure hunt" concept and "the thrill of the hunt" that people, families, and individuals wander off following the compass (or treasure map) -- as did Columbus, Magellan, De Soto, etc.....

 

I hope this sounds a little more to the center and not toward either end of the extreme -- not that your discussions here are extreme -- maybe just a little polarized. B)

 

Overall -- I think this is a good discussion. B)

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As an after thought -- I've seen those logging roads numerous times and seen the occasion truck loaded with logs, and this has been going on for decades.....

 

Clearly, it is about time government stepped in and truly protected the parks.

 

The logging industry does more damage in one day than all the geocachers do year long.

 

Their "protection argument" just doesn't hold water -- it protects the logging industry, not the"people's parks" -- clearly money talks.

Edited by P38manCdn

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Kingston Mills lockstation is a historic canal site operated by Parks Canada. It has some really nice cliffs and a lot of people go rock climbing there. Parks Canada has asked everybody who goes rock climbing at this location to sign a form releasing them of liablity. As far as I know, there was no public uprising when this policy was implemented. The rock climbers just accepted the fact that they had to sign the form before they could go climbing. I'm just mentioning this as an example.

 

P38manCdn, I understand your feelings about logging. But pointing our fingers at another group and saying "Look, they're worse than us" does not do anything to help our cause. My view is that Ontario Parks has specific concerns about geocaching (liability, environmental damage, etc) and the way they addressed those concerns was to tell us not to geocache in their parks. You may say, "they're our parks, not theirs" but the fact is that they have made a policy and we have to abide by it. I think if we can propose alternate solutions, such as signing liability waivers, maybe they will revise their policy and we can start geocaching in provincial parks again.

 

I was thinking last night about how Ontario Parks has a very fancy website that allows you to make campsite reservations online. I think contracts signed with a click can be just as legally binding as pen and ink signatures (based on all the software license agreements we sign with clicks), but I'm not sure about that. Maybe the waivers I'm proposing could be online too, at the Ontario Parks website.

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Just a quick note on the insurance topic..... I know that as a group... basic personal & liabilty insurance can be purchased and given to all members. The logistics might be a headache, but it might be a thing to do. Most Prov. wildlife federations, groups, org. etc work it in to there yearly membership costs and provide each member the insurance. The Sask. Wildlife Federation is set up with AIL insurance and it is actually a good deal.

 

parker2

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My assumption that Ontario Parks could be held liable was based on the part of their geocaching policy that says "Management of geocaching is necessary due to public safety and liability issues..." Am I wrong to assume this? Why do you say they cannot be held liable?

 

How does the liability issue work for other activities in a provincial park? I'm especially concerned about parks like Mono Cliffs where there is no gatehouse, and no staff on duty, just a parking lot and a trailhead leading off to some potentially very dangerous places. Obviously Ontario Parks is satisfied with the liability issues regarding hikers, picnikers and teenagers looking for a place to have a beer party.

 

This makes it pretty obious to me that liability is simply a smokescreen to hide the real reason why Ontario Parks doesn't want geocaching. Until we can discover that real reason, and deal with it, geocachers will get nowhere in negotiations with the parks.

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Just a quick note on the insurance topic..... I know that as a group... basic personal & liabilty insurance can be purchased and given to all members. The logistics might be a headache, but it might be a thing to do. Most Prov. wildlife federations, groups, org. etc work it in to there yearly membership costs and provide each member the insurance. The Sask. Wildlife Federation is set up with AIL insurance and it is actually a good deal.

 

So, what's the OGA's stance on something like this? Since the OGA bills itself as the umbrella organization representing Ontario geocachers, they should be the ones that initiate talks with the insurance companies and then (possibly??) offer this as a membership benefit.

 

The Amateur Radio clubs do this for their membership, and their members get (some) coverage as part of their annual membership fee.

 

Still, I am pessimistic over the insurance thing for two reasons:

 

- Insurance companies don't like people that scramble down rock faces at night (higher risk activity than just walking on a trail

 

- I really don't believe that Ontario (or Canada) parks people care whether or not we're insured. As Chris-Mouse put it, this is a smokescreen.

 

It would be interesting though to see what an organization like the OGA (or BCGA or any other formal group) could come up with for the membership in the way of insuring it's members. I know several cachers that are quite thankful for OHIP, and thankfully none that have needed liability, but you never know.... what happens when the pub night event cache goes terribly wrong?

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How does the OGA protect it self from worst case situations? I would assume like most organizations, they have insurance or some kind of separation to protect the executive and members should anything go wrong with a cache or event that is endorsed or put on under the name of the OGA.

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The OGA executives/Board of Directors should be covered by "Corporate Officers Insurance" and if not -- they should obtain it. Check with some insurance companies.

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I would not presume to speak for all of the OGA Membership without an internal discussion.

 

But my independant thoughts are as follows

 

1... OGA does not require insurance for itself, as we are not providing anything different than any other group. We are merely an information source and point of contact for the Geocachers that wish to join a group in the hopes of getting effective policies for Geocaching. We provide our input as is, and any Geocaches that are under the OGA account are covered in the same manner as any individuals Geocaches are.

 

2... OGA does not porport itself to be the official group for all Ontario Geocachers. We are a group for individuals to join should they wish to join a unified voice for discussions with land owners. We are no different than other Geocaching groups that are internal or external to this province.

 

 

As for the Liability Issue that someone brought up regarding Ontario Parks. I don't see how our activity is any different than other activities that are occuring in the parks now. They are controlled under the same policies that Geocaching should be. The only thing I can see is that our activity is documented and recorded online.

 

Sure some people journal their personal bird watching, or portaging and camping trips. But Geocaches are specifically identified by EXACT location and description. By placing a Geocache in the park and describing it to the online community, Ontario Parks cannot 'pretend' that the activity is not really going on. They can pretend that bush parties, ATV's, orienteering, off trail walking, etc. don't occur.

 

It's kinda like... We all break the law... but we don't take out a full page add in the newspaper and tell everyone. It might be something as minor as forgetting to signal a lane change, or photocopying a picture, recording a song off the radio... all just examples... and all illegal too.

 

The challenge is to find a way to get Geocaching to be allowed. Thus it would not be breaking the policies of the various parks. Some of the changes are on the Geocaching end... and some are changes to outdated policy wordings.

 

[8D] The Blue Quasar

Edited by The Blue Quasar

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I have a list of most of the Archived caches for all of Ontario (I like to think all, but there are a few I bet that I've missed)

 

They are posted on our site, in the Sales and Service section (a new area that is far from complete).

 

OGA - Sales and Service

 

Sales & Service???? Are you trying to hide it, BQ? :signalviolin: I know this is ABOUT caching, but it isn't a cache. And boy, do I know that you like to hide stuff in tricky locations, but this is going too far. Perhaps it is time for a Downloads Section. You might even have a download link for a GPX of these files. Just a thought. :mad:

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As for the Liability Issue that someone brought up regarding Ontario Parks.  I don't see how our activity is any different than other activities that are occuring in the parks now.

[8D] The Blue Quasar

 

As for the liability issue, as well as hiking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, sailing, fishing, speed-boating, wind-surfing, all of which have inherent risks, has anyone ever tried the mountain-biking trails in Algonquin??? :signalviolin:

 

I can tell you that my one experience, on what I believe was classed as a moderate trail, left me shaking like a leaf and thankful to be alive. I certainly would never attempt such a thing again on my own. The physical dangers on the trails - huge boulders, steep hills, fallen trees - as well as the physiological demands on one's body, were quite a shock and well beyond anything I would have expected. :mad:

 

Having said that, of course I would LOVE to do it again some time, as long as I had a friend or four along with me, with a STRONG preference to any rider who is a qualified MD or RN! :(

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Sales & SERVICE.

 

Downloads fall under SERVICE :signalviolin:

 

We at OGA cannot provide a GPX file that is created using data harvested from Groundspeak as that violates their Terms of Use.

 

We can create our own GPX files and post those however. GPX is an open format file type and free to be used by third parties.

 

Additionally AB, the Sales and Service area is new, and an area for growth with OGA. Many of the new features will be in the S&S area, such as Instructional Files, Filter Files, Articles, and regular information like Archived listings.

 

It's not a matter of hiding it, it is that we already had a directory structure in place.

 

:mad: The Blue Quasar

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Sales & SERVICE.

 

Downloads fall under SERVICE :P

 

Additionally AB, the Sales and Service area is new, and an area for growth with OGA.  Many of the new features will be in the S&S area, such as Instructional Files, Filter Files, Articles, and regular information like Archived listings. :D  The Blue Quasar

As I suggested, it seems probably the most unlikely place for such a "service". Even "Downloads and Links" would be more appropriate. Personally, I would never have any reason to look under "Sales & Service", but I often look at Downloads and Links, to see if something might interest me. You certainly don't have to be like all the other sites on the internet, or even other geocaching sites, but I just looked at six other Geocaching organization sites, all of which had either Downloads or Links or both, and none of which had either Sales or Service.

 

Sales & SERVICE.

 

It's not a matter of hiding it, it is that we already had a directory structure in place.

:P  The Blue Quasar

Ah! Well, if the directory structure is already in place, you wouldn't want to mess with that! :P

 

Sales & SERVICE.We at OGA cannot provide a GPX file that is created using data harvested from Groundspeak as that violates their Terms of Use.

 

We can create our own GPX files and post those however.  GPX is an open format file type and free to be used by third parties. :P  The Blue Quasar

So, does that mean they will or will not be posted as GPX files?

Edited by Algonquin Bound

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New Ontario Parks Bill

 

They have a new bill that has as first reading and the above is a link to the copy.

 

I did a search and found no metion of geocaching in this bill.

 

It has been a couple of years now and if they were going to ban it you would think it would have been included in a up to date bill becoming law soon?

 

:rolleyes:

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Archived Files will not be provided as GPX files, as they would be harvested from Geocaching.com

 

We are allowed, as we have requested, to be able to list various information regarding Geocaches from the Geocaching.com website as long as we do not provide the Latitude or Longitude of those Geocaches.

 

The legal department at Groundspeak gave us this permission at a time when we were trying to find a way to publish files for our Membership. That was the one concession they had to secure their data.

 

That is why the infomation is present on our site as it is.

 

I will speak to the people that are able to update our site to get a different layout for the Library / Downloads / Files / or similar.

 

Like I said, it is a new area and we are still looking at how to set it up.

 

:rolleyes: The Blue Quasar

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I would like to take this opportunity to let the Ontario Geocaching community know that the Regional Manager for OGA spoke with the main Ontario Parks contact that is involved in the Geocaching Policies and there has been a lot of attention given to the activity of Geocaching.

 

From what we have learned, via the OGA - Regional Manager, is that Ontario Parks is much better informed of the activity of Geocaching. They now understand it to be much more environmentally friendly and equate it with several other activities that they currently support and encourage. We would like to believe that Ontario Parks will be willing to allow Geocaching in their Parks in the future, and it may just be a matter of time.

 

While the issue is still in the "committee process", the person in charge has informed the Parks that they are not to remove ANY caches without his permission. Ontario Parks are reviewing the logs of the Geocaches in their parks and has no intention of removing any caches once the April 15th deadline is reached if a decision on how to properly handle Geocaching has not been made.

 

Further, Ontario Parks will be requesting the removal of Geocaches that are presenting an ecological threat. Ontario Parks will be deciding which Geocaches are affected. This is a much better solution for the Geocaching community than the current blanket ban. For any caches that need to be removed, every effort will be made to contact the owner, and failing that, a member of OGA may be appointed "guardianship" to assist in the removal. This would be to ensure proper removal procedures and discussion, as well as to address all issues for both the Geocaching community and Ontario Parks. Last thing anyone wants is caches removed and no one knowing it, and then Geocachers looking for them. As our Regional Manager indicated, this would show the strong stewardship that we at OGA believe in.

 

Also, Ontario Parks was presented with a list of Geocaching supporters from across the Province. These range from cities and towns, to organizations.

 

If you are aware of groups that support Geocaching, please check this link

 

OGA - Spotlight on Geocaching Supporters and if it is not listed then send the link to regional@ontgeocaching.com for inclusion.

 

Additionally, the Regional Manager has been compiling a list of Log Entries that illustrate people Geocaching in Provincial Parks, especially those that are camping. This helps show that Geocachers utilize the park system and are willing to support the camping facilities, which will inspire more visitation. If you have camped at a Provincial Park for Geocaching, please send a copy of you logs to the Regional Manager at the email listed above.

 

I would like to point out that this process is far from complete, and the efforts of the Regional Manager have been a big step forward. But Ontario Parks is still in the committee process and no final decision has been made. We all need to be patient, but the more positive information that we all can bring forward the better our chances that Ontario Parks will embrace our activity and want to promote it as a benefit.

 

This effort by the Regional Manager proves that a continued commitment to resolving these issues not only takes time and patience, but also a willness to invest information to reach a solution.

 

The meeting that OGA had with Ontario Parks in June 05, along with other feedback they have received has certainly had a very positive impact, and this was reinforced by the Regional Manager's talk with our contact at Ontario Parks over the last two weeks.

 

We at OGA will continue to make all efforts to work with Ontario Parks to reach a policy with them that allows Geocaching to once again occur within the Ontario Parks System.

 

OGA - Admin

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This thread has been going on for a while, and some of the details are hard to find. Can the OGA provide a time line of what discussions have taken place, what decisions have been made, and what policies have been put into place with regards to the current issue between Geocaching and Ontario Parks? I’m sure the OGA has kept detailed documentation with regards to this and it would be nice to recap what exactly has been happening, and when, right from the beginning.

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As of this time, there has been no change in the status regarding Geocaching Policies created by Ontario Parks.

 

The content that was posted on November 27th, 2005 is the most recent.

 

While we do keep in contact with Ontario Parks as needed, they have indicated to us that the committee process can at times be lengthy, and we must be patient.

 

We continue to hope that the information that has been provided by members of the Ontario Geocaching community (OGA or otherwise) is helping to illustrate how Geocaching can be a benefit and help to promote proper use of the lands under the management of Ontario Parks.

 

Edit: typos and including the following

 

Perhaps the local reviewers are aware of additional information. As always any important information that OGA receives is always posted here as it becomes available.

 

OGA - Admin

Edited by OGA - Admin

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I’m sorry, I guess my language was not clear enough, entirely my fault. Let me try again.

 

1) this forums has far too many posts in it to try to follow what has been going on aside from all the personal opinions floating around

2) I would like to see a historical time line, events that have happened in the past, of meetings, policy changes, and official statements made by Ontario Parks, and the OGA on this situation.

3) Would it not be a good idea to post this timeline some where for all to review the recap what has been going on?

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Keith Watson Posted Today, 12:07 PM

 

1) this forums has far too many posts in it to try to follow what has been going on aside from all the personal opinions floating around

 

Personal opinions are as valid as any other. All of it is relevant to the discussions, and OGA would be unwise to attempt to filter or distill this thread.

 

Keith Watson Posted Today, 12:07 PM

 

2) I would like to see a historical time line, events that have happened in the past, of meetings, policy changes, and official statements made by Ontario Parks, and the OGA on this situation.

 

The official statement made by Ontario Parks was posted by Cache-Tech, and to the best of OGA's knowledge has not changed. OGA has not made any official statement to Ontario Parks, but we did meet with them as was detailed in previous posting in this thread, to try to facilitate a mutual understanding of the concerns and how we can together provide an enjoyable experience to the visitors of the lands managed by Ontario Parks while remaining within the Mandates they too must observe.

 

Keith Watson Posted Today, 12:07 PM

 

3) Would it not be a good idea to post this timeline some where for all to review the recap what has been going on?

 

As for a time line, all of the required information is contained with this forum thread, and posted as it becomes available.

 

OGA - Admin

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