Ontario

Regional Geocaching Policies Wiki 

All geocachers should follow the Geocaching Guidelines. The Guidelines are supported with detailed articles that are found in the Geocaching Help Centre.

For caches placed in Ontario, Canada the direction provided on this page will also apply.

New to the game? Welcome! Geocaching HQ encourages geocachers ("cachers") to find at least 20 geocaches ("caches") before setting out to hide their own.

The greater variety of geocaches that someone finds, the better they should understand how to create enjoyable experiences for others.

Ontario - Adequate GPS Usage

  • As per the Guidelines, GPS usage is an essential element of hiding and seeking caches.

  • Online maps should never be used as the source of coordinates for cache placement.

  • Accurate coordinates are crucial - for this reason, coordinates must be obtained with a GPS-enabled device.

  • As part of the hunt, a cache must require that finders navigate to a set of specific coordinates with a GPS-enabled device.

  • A waypoint projection from a fixed point is often a good method of reinforcing adequate GPS usage.

  • A cache must not be found with clues alone (even if it is a Letterbox Hybrid cache). Clues may be listed as the secondary finding method on the cache page.  

  • Image puzzles where a location can only be determined by knowing where a photo was taken are not publishable; additional information (e.g. specific coordinates or the name of the park/site where the photo was taken) must also be provided. 

Ontario - Adoption of Cache Pages/Transfer of Ownership  

  • Reviewers do not have the ability to initiate a cache page adoption (i.e. transfer ownership of a cache page) from one Player account to another.

  • Only the owner of an active cache page can initiate an adoption request to another Player by visiting http://www.geocaching.com/adopt .

  • Geocaching HQ will not process an ownership transfer of a cache page without written permission from the cache owner or their estate.

  • An Archive action is intended to be permanent; once Archived a cache page is no longer a candidate for adoption.

Ontario - Cache Types / Tips for an Efficient Review

  • Before clicking Submit For Review cache owners should post a Reviewer Note with the details of the container, the hiding method and/or specifics of where/how the elements of the cache are placed.

  • A Reviewer may question Difficulty and Terrain ratings if the details on the cache page or Reviewer Notes do not appear to reflect the circumstances of the hide.

  • If a Mystery cache incorporates/includes a puzzle element, the solution/explanation of how to solve the puzzle needs to be included in a Reviewer Note. 

  • Geocaching HQ provide reference articles that will assist in the determining the most appropriate Size, Difficulty and Terrain ratings for a cache page.

  • When a cache is at the posted coordinates - it is typically defined as a Traditional cache; in some situations where the Field Puzzle attribute may be appropriate.

  • If the posted coordinates need to be visited in order to gain obtain offset information (e.g. information used to find the subsequent elements of a cache) - it is typically a Multi-cache.

  • For caches where the posted coordinates do not need to be visited (they are "fake") - or when locating/accessing the cache requires internet access (e.g. using a webpage or "checker" to access coordinates for a redirect) it is typically a Mystery cache.

  • A physical cache that contains a stamp may be listed as Letterbox Hybrid cache; text such as "This cache contains a stamp that is not a trade item" should be included in the cache page to assist the Reviewer and potential finders.

  • If a Wherigo cartridge is used with a cache - it must be the Wherigo cache type. The cache page must include a link to a unique cartridge file that is located/hosted on Wherigo.com .

  • A Bonus cache is always the Mystery Cache type. Bonus cache coordinates that are revealed by finding clues or coordinates in other caches or (an Adventure Lab).

  • EarthCaches in Ontario are not Reviewed by the Ontario Reviewer Team - they are handled by our awesome colleague, geoawareCA.

Ontario - Challenge Caches

The Ontario Reviewer Team strives to be consistent with their reviewing approach.

Challenge caches are sometimes difficult to review due to the subjectivity .

The Ontario Reviewer Team approach to all reviews is "provincial" as other arbitrary definitions of regions/areas can be subject to interpretation.

  • A challenge cache needs to appeal to and be attainable by a reasonable number of cachers.

  • Challenge cache owners must have qualified for their own challenge.

  • Challenge cache owners must provide a list of 10 Player names of Ontario cachers who have already qualified for their challenge.

  • For a challenge cache the container must be placed at coordinates on the listing, either as posted coordinates, or as a visible additional waypoint.

  • Challenge Caches cannot have puzzle elements or hidden waypoints.

  • Difficulty rating (should) be based on the challenge, the terrain rating on the challenge cache location (i.e. as if it were a Traditional cache).

  • A Challenge Cache may need to be relocated if a similar Challenge cache is known to be within 50km, as measured by Google Maps shortest driving route.

  • Challenge cache owners must demonstrate that there are plenty of qualifying caches to meet the challenge at the time of publication.

  • If there are a limited/restrictive number of qualifying caches available for a Challenge cache, it may not be Guidelines compliant.

  • Challenges that rely on one-time Events and Awards (such as Souvenirs that can no longer be acquired) may not be Guidelines compliant.

  • If a Challenge Cache features multiple layers of qualifying criteria, a Reviewer may request separate caches with distinct qualifying criteria be submitted instead.

  • If a Challenge Cache relates to the completion of a specific D/T combinations (“Grid Art”) then a Full grid, single line, “X” and “+” are typically acceptable.

  • If there are a limited/restrictive number of qualifying caches available for a Challenge Cache, it may not be Guidelines compliant.

  • Challenges that rely on one-time Events and Awards (such as Souvenirs that can no longer be acquired) may not be Guidelines compliant.

  • Challenge caches published after April 21, 2015 must include a link to a unique Project-GC web based checker, even if qualification can be verified by other means.

  • Proof of qualification in a log (e.g. GC codes or bookmarks of qualifiers) should not be requested.

  • The onus is on the cache owner to verify that Finders have met qualifying requirements, using the Project-GC Challenge Checker on the cache page.

  • The Project-GC website has a Frequently Asked Questions page with more information.

 

Words from Geocaching HQ regarding Challenge Caches:

Cache owners are integral to the success of this framework. It’s important that they work within these guidelines in order to reduce the burden that reviewers felt prior to the moratorium. If after a period of evaluation, we find that a lot of the pre-moratorium issues are still causing problems, then we’ll know that this new framework isn’t the answer. We don’t have a backup plan. The only remaining option would be to not permit challenge caches as they currently exist.

Ontario - Determine If Coordinates Are Available

  • It is recommended that cache owners determine if the coordinates for their intended placement(s) is/are available before hiding any physical containers/items.

  • Cache owners should ensure that proposed placement(s) follow the current Geocaching Guidelines (don't forget the 161m saturation rule!).

  • Cache owners should review the Geocaching Help Centre and Getting Your Cache Listed Quickly page for other placement and cache page considerations.

  • Cache owners should create "placeholder" cache page (entering intended placement coordinates) before posting a Reviewer Note such as "Cache not in place, please check coordinates".

  • If there are any Geocaching Guidelines issues with a cache owner's intended coordinates they will be notified with a Disable log from a Reviewer. 

  • Coordinates that are unavailable cannot be reserved.

  • If a cache owner relocates a physical element of their cache they should use the Edit link on the right of the cache page to update the coordinates.

  • If a Land Management Policy is on record for a submitted cache location, the Reviewer will refer you to the appropriate Land Manager Permission Process.

Ontario - Event and CITO Cache Pages

  • Cache pages should not include recommendations, nor should they refer to venue features or emphasize available menu items as this could be interpreted as being promotional/commercial. A simple sentence such as "Food and drink are available" would inform Attendees that purchase options may be made at an Event.

  • If Attendees have questions regarding an Event or what is offered at a venue, they always have the option to contact the Event Host via their Profile Page.

  • A cache owner/host must be in attendance for the duration of their Event; the cache owner/host is responsible for the maintenance of the cache page and the logs.

  • As the Guidelines do not permit content that raises awareness, COVID-19/health references (even if positively intentioned) should not be included on cache pages.

  • Event venues may have their own requirements for gatherings. If an Event/CITO host deems it necessary to mention venue requirements (vaccination, distancing and masking are examples) on their cache page, suggested text would be "Attendees should make themselves aware of any conditions/requirements that need to be met for them to be physically present at the Event location".

Event/CITO cache pages should…

  • Be listed with a Difficulty rating of 1.

  • Be listed with a Terrain rating of 1 if they are wheelchair accessible.

  • Be listed with a fixed start time and end time (noting that any descriptive text should match the displayed date/times of the event).

  • Be listed with a minimum duration of 30 minutes (if an Event), 60 minutes (if a CITO) or 120 minutes (if a Community Celebration Event).

  • Be submitted for review at least 14 days prior to the event date (21 days is preferable).

  • Include a social element, coordinated by the cache owner/host.

  • Be open to all who can attend - if there is a limit to the number of seats/space is limited, those who wish to simply drop-in at the Event coordinates to be recognized by the host (and not stay) are also eligible to log the event.

  • Be static and listed with fixed ice surface/land based coordinates.

Event/CITO cache pages should not…

  • Require a log book - if a log book is mentioned, it should be clear that it is optional as there are no requirements to sign a log book at an event.

  • Contain commercial, promotional or agenda based content - either directly, or implied. 

  • Endorse or provide opinions regarding the quality of a venue or its offerings.

  • Purposefully restrict the number of attendees who can Attend the event.

  • Promote the finding or placement of caches.

  • Be created to bring cachers to an existing event/gathering that would already be occurring if the event was not listed on the Geocaching website.

  • Imply the requirement to participate in extra activities (other than being at the event coordinates during the start/end time) to log the event as Attended. 

  • Be scheduled on the same day as a local/regional Mega/GIGA event.

  • Be held near transportation centres such as airports, cruise ship terminals or train stations.

  • Include recommendations, suggestions, menu items or links to websites considered to be commercial and/or promoting products or services.

Event/CITO cache pages may…

  • Mention the name of the event location (e.g. restaurant name) in the descriptive text of the cache page (not the cache page title).

  • Include non-specific text indicating that food/beverages are optionally available at an event location.

  • Include a link to an ad-free webpage or geocaching profile page where additional event information is provided.

  • Include references to trackables being available for sale if the trackables are specifically created for the event and they are trackable on the Geocaching.com website.

  • Focus on teaching opportunities for specific Geocaching API partners (e.g. GSAK and Project-GC).

A CITO ("Cache In Trash Out") event should focus on the improvement parks and cache-friendly places; appropriate CITO activities include:

  • Removing garbage from a designated area.

  • Tree-planting.

  • Trail-building.

  • Removal of invasive species.

If local laws/guidelines require that attendee information be collected, refer to Geocaching HQ's "Collecting Event Attendee Information" Knowledgebase Article

Ontario - Event Stacking  

Event Stacking occurs when an attempt is made to host multiple Events/CITOs in relative proximity (in location and time).

With the likelihood of there being more promoted Event opportunities from Geocaching HQ, the Ontario Reviewer Team wish to make it easier for Players to host Events without them being considered "Stacked". For this reason, a 2-hour window and 32km crow-flies approach has been implemented.

(In comparison, the UK Reviewer Team approach to Event Stacking requires at least 10 hours between different Events).

  • If an Event is scheduled within 2 hours of another Event, there should be a distance of at least 32km between them (measured as the crow flies).

  • It is recommended to check the upcoming Event Caches in Ontario by clicking here.

e.g. If an Event is from 4PM-7PM any other Event less than 32km away should end no later than 2 hours before (2PM) or begin no earlier than 2 hours after (9PM).

Ontario - Event Promotion and Caches Associated With Events

As per Geocaching HQ guidance:

  • Only Event (not CITO) Caches may promote other geocaching events.

  • If a cache page is promoting another Event Cache, it cannot encourage the logging of Will Attends; this includes mentions such as "Don't forget to log your Will Attend".

  • Any mention of an event in a non-Event cache must be limited to one singular sentence similar to: "This cache has been placed for the [insert name of Event here]" placed at the bottom of the long description.

    The Ontario Reviewer Team currently considers exceptions to this guidance by specifically allowing the singular sentence to include the name, date and start time of an event in a non-Event cache page with text such as:

    "This cache was placed with the intention of being found for event/occasion/GC code on date/time".

  • There should be no implication of there being any penalty for those who choose to find/log a cache as soon as it has been Published as Published means ready to be found.

  • It is also possible to make a Future Publish Request so that a cache is Published on a specific date.

Ontario - Future Publish Requests

  • Cache pages that are requested to be Published on a specific date should be Submitted for Review at least 14 days in advance with an explanatory Reviewer Note.

  • If a series/multiple caches are to be Published concurrently, cache owners should include the GC codes for ALL caches in the series along with each cache in their Reviewer Note(s).

  • Requests for morning/afternoon/evening Publish on a particular date may be possible - however timing cannot be guaranteed.

Ontario - Health Score

  • To help improve the overall caching experience, Geocaching HQ created an algorithm to calculate an undisclosed Health Score for each geocache.

  • A low Health Score is an indication that the cache may need attention from the owner.

  • Health Scores are intended to improve the overall geocaching experience; they help to identify caches that may cause frustrations with potentially missing or broken caches.

  • The algorithm isn't perfect; it cannot read and interpret the text within a cache page - however it may take the following aspects of a page into consideration:

  1.    Did Not Find logs (DNF)

  2.    Owner Attention requested logs (OA)

  3.    Reviewer Attention requested logs (RA)

  4.    Last find date

  5.    Difficulty and terrain rating

  • If the Health Score of a cache is calculated below a dynamic threshold, an automatic alert email is sent to the cache owner by Geocaching HQ.

  • A Community Volunteer Reviewer may follow up to perform further actions on the cache page.

  • Neither Geocaching HQ or the Community Volunteer Reviewer can assess the status of a cache; it is the responsibility of the cache owner, as part of cache maintenance.

  • If there are a multiple DNFs logs on a cache - the community may not know if the cache is missing or is simply hard to find.

  • If a cache page has posted DNFs - and the cache owner knows that the cache is in definitely in place - they should reassure the community by posting a Note log.

e.g. "There have been a few DNFs, however it is a clever hide! I checked on it this morning. Check the hint!"


If a Community Volunteer Reviewer does not see a response from a cache owner on their cache page after DNF/Owner Attention requests, it may be Disabled.

  • If a cache owner knows with certainty that their cache is in place and ready to be found, they may Enable the cache page, with an explanatory note.

  • If a cache owner is unable to definitively confirm the status of their cache, the cache page should remain Disabled and a maintenance visit should be scheduled.

  • An Owner Maintenance log should only be posted after a maintenance visit has occurred.

  • Only when a cache is confirmed to be in place and ready to be found should a cache page be Enabled.

The number of "false positives" flagged with this process are minimal compared to the number of abandoned caches that this process will remove from the game.

Ontario - Land Management Permission Process

If a cache owners needs help converting their coordinates to DD MM.MMM GPS notation they should click here to visit an external/3rd party site that may help.

  • Cache owners must request that the authority providing permission send a confirmation of permission via e-mail to cachedrone@gmail.com . 

  • The permission e-mail must originate from the authority or agency responsible for the site/property.

  • Permission emails must contain the GC code of the relevant cache page.

  • Permission emails must include coordinates of ALL physical placements (e.g. permission is needed for each physical stage of a multi-cache)

 

  • Once permission confirmation has been received, CacheDrone will paste the text of the permission e-mail on the cache page in a Reviewer Note.

  • At this point a cache owner should make sure their cache is in place (and ready to be found) and the details on the cache page are accurate and ready to go!

  • When a cache page is ready to be seen by a Reviewer, the cache owner should click Submit for Review.

Last updated 01/Jan/2024





Agency

Policy

Site/Policy/Contact Resources for Permission

Bruce Trail Conservancy



Inquiries may be sent to  info@brucetrail.org with subject ATTN: BTC Ecologist

Canada Post Corporation

Federal Legislation

Placements on Canada Post property (e.g. mailboxes) can be considered mail tampering which is a Federal Offense.

Permission from local Postmaster would be required.

Catfish Creek Conservation Authority

As Posted

No geocaches permitted.

https://www.catfishcreek.ca/geocaching-and-conservation-areas

City of Hamilton



Due to City permission and liability concerns, some caches within Hamilton (e.g. "Tree climb caches") may require additional permission confirmation. 

City of London - Ecologically Significant Areas

As Posted

No geocaches permitted in ESAs (https://london.ca/ESA).

Geocaching is indirectly prohibited as per Linda McDougall - Ecologist - Environmental & Parks Planning .

http://www.london.ca/city-hall/by-laws/Documents/parks-recreation.pdf - Section 5.4.

Grand River Conservation Authority

As Posted

The GRCA oversee ~20,000 hectares of holdings across Ontario.

As of August 2020 - Reviewers will only Publish caches within the follow GRCA designated parks, as per GRCA policy : 
Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake, Rockwood, Brant, Elora Gorge, Pinehurst Lake, Byng Island, Guelph Lake, Shade's Mills and Laurel Creek.

https://www.grandriver.ca/en/outdoor-recreation/Geocaching.aspx 

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Railbed

Access Fee

https://www.wagnerforest.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ontario-TC-and-prices.pdf

https://www.wagnerforest.com/permits/

Access to former GTP railbed (including Flett Tunnel) is now governed by Wagner Forest Management.

A permit is required to use/access the former railway bed and various surrounding properties.

No specific geocaching placement permits have been given by Wagner Forest Management (as of Nov 2019).

Halton Regional Conservation Authority

As Posted

https://www.conservationhalton.ca/activities/geocaching/

Hamilton Conservation Authority

As Posted

https://conservationhamilton.ca/activities/geocaching

Hamilton Naturalists Club

As Posted

No geocaches permitted

https://hamiltonnature.org/nature-sanctuaries

Nature Conservancy of Canada (Ontario)

Under Review

http://www.natureconservancy.ca - permission confirmation will be requested during Review.

Niagara Parks Commission

As Posted

https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit-niagara-parks/nature-activities/geocaching/

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority



https://npca.ca/parks-recreation/geocache-application

Ontario Parks

Site Specific

Posted Ontario Parks policies typically pre-date geocaching; placements within Ontario Parks would require permission from the Park Superintendent.

https://www.ontario.ca/page/provincial-park-management-direction

Parks Canada

As Posted

Placing a cache at Parks Canadahttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/docs/pc/guide/geocache/index.aspx
Note: No Trade Items Permitted In Caches On Parks Canada Property

rare Charitable Research Reserve

As Posted

http://raresites.org/geocaching-policy

Rouge Park

As Posted

This is now under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (see above)

Royal Botanical Gardens



Permission contact is Margaret Walton (mwalton@cogeco.ca)

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

As Posted

https://trca.ca/parks-recreation/trca-geocache-request-form via https://trca.ca/activities/geocaching/

Note: This policy only applies to lands owned and managed by TRCA.

Ontario - Land Management Policy Revocation 

  • If a cache has been Archived due to permissions issue, ongoing logging of an Archived cache may be viewed negatively by the Land Manager/Property Manager.

  • If a Land Manager/Property Manager does not provide permission for a cache placement, the cache owner should arrange to retrieve all elements of the cache.

Ontario - Off-Limits Locations

  • Natural gas tanks/meters, hydro-electric transformers, electrical substations, transmission towers and equipment with warning signage should be considered off-limits locations for cache hides.

  • Canada Post Mailboxes, Super Mailboxes and all Canada Post properties should be considered off-limits locations for cache hides (unless written permission can be provided by the local Postmaster).

  • On/off ramps and roads/highways that only permit emergency stopping are not intended to be accessed by pedestrians; they are off-limits locations for accessing and hiding caches.

  • Schools, playgrounds, daycare centres, airports and other locations where unexplained objects and/or visitors may be misinterpreted as security risks should be avoided.

Ontario - Published Means It Is Ready To Be Found!

  • Cache pages should not include/impose restrictions (e.g. "Do not find this/this cache should not be found until after date/time") on when a cache can be found.

  • If a cache owner does not wish their cache to be found until a certain date, a Future Publish Request may be requested.

  • A cache owner may choose to include positively worded text on their cache page such as "This was placed with the intention of being found for event/occasion on date/time".

Ontario - Railway Lines

  • Transport Canada regulates the railway industry in Canada. 

  • Section 26.1 of the Railway Safety Act makes it an offense to trespass on any railway lands in Canada.

  • Caches that require access to and/or are situated near railway lines may be subject to additional scrutiny during the Review process.

  • Cache pages should not include content that promotes the acquisition of social media channel subscribers/followers as this would be promoting an agenda/highlighting a cause.

  • Linked media content on a cache page should be relevant to that specific cache.

  • Geocaching HQ requires that cache pages that have links to social media groups also include a disclaimer; "As the geocache owner, I ensure that this links to a local geocaching group that is active in the community and contributing to geocaching in positive ways. This link has not been checked by Geocaching HQ or by the Reviewer."

Ontario - Suitable Cache Containers  

  • All physical caches (Traditional, Multicache, Letterbox, Puzzle/Mystery and Wherigo) should be minimally comprised of a container and a log.

  • Containers should be watertight and suitable to survive the hot/cold temperature extremes of Ontario.  

Ontario - Works In Progress

  • If a new cache page is found to have proximity issues to another unpublished ("Work In Progress") cache page during Review, various factors are considered.

  • An existing Work In Progress cache page may be ignored by the Reviewer if it appears it was not Geocaching Guidelines compliant at the time of the last known update/visible log from the cache owner.

  • If 6 months or more has passed since the last visible posted log from the cache owner on a Work In Progress cache page, it will be ignored or archived.

  • If 3 months or more have passed since the last visible posted log from the cache owner on a Work In Progress cache page, a Reviewer will request that a Reviewer Note be posted within 7-14 days, confirming that the cache page will soon be submitted for review.

  • If a cache owner does not respond to a Reviewer action requesting an update, a Work In Progress cache page may be ignored or archived.

  • If a Work In Progress cache page is less than 3 months old, it is considered active.

  • If a cache owner is informed their intended location is unavailable due to a Work In Progress cache page nearby, they will need to relocate their hide and update their cache page accordingly.

* This page is always a work in progress. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. May contain traces of nuts. Not for use as a floatation device. Do not use for drying pets. For external use, only.

Click here to send updates to CacheShadow.

Feb 5th 2024 - Added new video

January 7th 2024 - Added Table of Contents

January 1st 2024 - Ontario Wiki Refresh / URL revision as HQ has moved the Wiki environment to a cloud host.

Resources

Ontario - Community Volunteer Reviewers

CacheShadow, CacheMinder and CacheDrone

Upcoming Events and CITOs In Canadian Provinces and Territories

AB / BC / MB / NB / NL / NT / NS / NU / ON / PE / QC / SK / YT

Upcoming Giga, Mega, GPS and Community Celebration Events

Ontario - Learning About The Game

Ontario - A Poem About Cache Maintenance