Posted by: geonarcissa | June 2, 2010

Just posted this to the Groundspeak forum.

Just interested to hear other’s thoughts on this, and perhaps spread the word around about this.

I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada which is right on the border between Ontario and Quebec. This puts geocachers here in the interesting position of having 6 or 7 reviewers to deal with, depending on where a cache is placed. Most of these reviewers do a stand-up job, and are reasonable and open communicators.

Much of the publicly accessible land in this area is owned and managed by an entity called the National Capital Commission (NCC). Until recently, geocachers pretty much had carte blanche access to NCC’s vast network of parks and trails.

A couple of months ago, the NCC published a new set of policies that would affect a large section of land in Quebec called Gatineau Park. They identified a particular section of the park that would become off-limits to geocaching, and have suggested that there would be some additional rules imposed on geocaching elsewhere in Gatineau Park. This is a little disappointing, but most cachers are more than willing to comply and cooperate. We don’t want to lose access to the park.

Local blogger and geocacher Gordon Dewis has [url=http://gordon.dewis.ca/2010/03/23/geocaching-and-the-gatineau-park-ecosystem-conservation-plan/]a good outline of the NCC policy as it pertains to geocaching here[/url]. There are links to the NCC’s policies and maps there.

There hasn’t been any additional direction from the NCC since the document was published, and we expect it will take some time before they have a firm policy in place. We’ve all been waiting to hear more before taking action – nobody wants to remove caches prematurely.

Understandably, it came as a shock when the Quebec reviewer cacheblex sent out the following letter to the owners of nearly 300 geocaches in (and near) Gatineau Park:

[indent][i] You are receiving this message because one of your caches is located within the territory of Gatineau Park.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) wishes to control Geocaching in the Gatineau Park.  Therefore, it is currently setting a procedure for caches within its territory, and is asking geocachers to archive all caches in the park.  They are requesting the cooperation of concerned geocachers to pick up all the containers.

We are asking for your cooperation in collecting your cache and in archiving the listing. Note that on June 20, 2010, all remaining caches within the territory of the park will be archived.

All new requests for publication at this location will be denied until permission of the NCC and the new procedure are received. We apologize for this inconvenience, which is beyond our control, and solicit the patience and cooperation of all geocachers.

Thank you

The Quebec Reviewers[/i][/indent]

There was no other indication from the NCC that they were now requiring the removal of all caches. Nothing on their website, no press release, no amendment to the policy. Cache owners were quick to email cacheblex to ask what was going on, but it was days before anybody heard a response.

Within a couple of days, a local CBC reporter was contacting local cachers, Groundspeak, and the NCC, trying to get some answers. Was the NCC trying to use a back door to get caches archived as quietly as possible? While the NCC is prone to gaffes, this didn’t seem likely.

With the local geocaching gossip mill in overdrive, it quickly became apparent that one Quebec reviewer, cacheblex, was acting on second-hand information. Eventually, one local cacher was able to elicit a response from cacheblex, and directed him to the NCC’s publicly accessible documents and maps that clearly state the geocaching is only going to be prohibited in a small section of the park, and that the rest of their geocaching policy has yet to be finalized.

According to another local blogger with an interest in the park:

[i]”I talked to Steve McLaughlin – the Gatineau Park recreational services manager – yesterday. He confirms that the NCC did not issue a request to archive caches throughout the park and reassures me that it is only in certain highly sensitive areas (the integral conservation zone) that they wish to discontinue caching.”[/i]

The reviewer has supposedly rescinded the archival threat, but has not yet sent a correction to the same people who received the initial message. I’m still getting notifications of cache archivals within the park by owners who haven’t heard that the situation has changed.

There are several key elements of this reviewer’s behaviour that I take issue with:

[list]
[*]The reviewer blatantly lied in the original email – there was no correspondence from the NCC asking for caches to be removed or archived.
[*]The reviewer did not look at the pertinent policy and related maps before sending out the message to cache owners.
[*]The reviewer has not emailed cache owners to tell them that he has reversed his decision.
[*]When faced with questions and criticism, the reviewer directed inquiries straight to Groundspeak, even though he is the one who is supposed to deal with these issues at the local level.
[/list]

Our local club is getting organized to deal with the larger issue of geocaching policy in Gatineau Park, but I think this reviewer’s behaviour is an entirely separate issue. Anybody have thoughts and insight to share?

P.S. Just want to repeat that most of the reviewers we work with in this area are very accommodating, helpful, and reasonable. This is the most serious reviewer issue I’ve ever heard of in Ottawa/Gatineau.

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Responses

  1. It seems like this Reviewer can’t take the heat. All it takes is an apology, admittance of guilt/misunderstanding. I can’t believe he hasn’t reversed his decision via e-mail either.

    In my opinion, since the review seems to be in hiding, they know they did something wrong and don’t care. Maybe they should be striped of their review status or at least put on “suspension” until the Park makes the necessary policies and everything is copasetic on that front.

    • I don’t think he necessarily needs to be suspended, but he should probably be removed from this particular issue. There’s certainly no dearth of reviewers around here.


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