The exposed bedrock at the Cheltenham Badlands is Queenston Shale, and this iron-rich shale was deposited over 445 million years ago. Due to the removal of vegetation during land clearing and livestock grazing in the early 1900s, the shale has eroded into a series of hummocks and gullies, producing the distinctive landscape. The striking landscape of the Cheltenham Badlands is one of Ontario’s geological treasures and is one of the best examples of Badland topography in the province. Today, the Cheltenham Badlands is recognized as a provincially significant Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, and is owned and managed by Ontario Heritage Trust.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
Over the years, the distinctive landscape of the Cheltenham Badlands has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors, resulting in accelerated erosion of the sensitive red shale surface and permanently changing its unique appearance.
THERE IS CURRENTLY NO PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE BADLANDS FEATURE
To protect the fragile and picturesque topography of the Cheltenham Badlands, the exposed red shale landscape is currently closed to the public while a Master Plan is in progress.
A protective fence has been erected along Olde Baseline Road in the Town of Caledon, closing the Cheltenham Badlands to visitors while a long-term plan guiding future conservation and public access to the site is developed.
The protective fence is an interim measure to stop further damage to the Badlands while a Master Plan is being developed. As required under the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the Master Plan will address public safety improvements, guide long-term conservation activities, and explore options for public enjoyment of the Badlands. An environmental consultant will work on the Master Plan, which will take several years to develop and implement.
Public input and dialogue are an important component of the ongoing Master Planning efforts for the Badlands. As such, surveys and public consultation meetings have been held in 2015 and 2016, with more planned in 2017 (see below).
In 2017, a parking lot will be constructed. When it is opened, this parking lot will accommodate 33 cars and allow for a bus turnaround for visitors to the badlands. Ontario Heritage Trust, the property owner, has received some federal funding to further the development of the site, allowing for the construction of a temporary viewing platform and some trail improvements which will make portions of the site more accessible in accordance with AODA requirements.
When the initial phase of construction is completed, hopefully Spring 2018, the site will be reopened. In the interim, a public meeting is planned for Fall 2017 to provide a more detailed update on future plans for the site.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIKERS?
There is currently a reroute of the main Bruce Trail in the area.
The re-route now takes the main trail straight along Boston Mills to the Caledon Trailway. From there it turns north east on the Caledon Trailway to Chinguacousy Road, then north to Olde Baseline where it meets the current trail. The Olde Baseline Side Trail is also closed. Please note that the main Badlands feature is not visible from the Bruce Trail.
Effective June 11, 2015, a by-law has been passed restricting ALL parking along Olde Base Line Road between Chinguacousy Road and Creditview Road, both on the north and south side of the road.
IF YOU SEE TRESPASSERS …
If You See Trespassing at the Cheltenham Badlands, You Can Help!
Because the Badlands are currently closed to the public while a Master Plan is in progress, there are signs at the site advising the public that accessing the Badlands is considered trespassing. In support of the closure and to ensure public safety, trespassing is being enforced by the Ontario Provincial Police. Anyone who witnesses trespassing or vandalism at the site is asked to call the police directly at 1-800-310-1122. The Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club and its partners on the Cheltenham Badlands Management Planning Team appreciate the support of the community and the public in ensuring the protection of this important natural heritage site while we work towards a long-term conservation plan.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about the Badlands, the Master Planning process, and upcoming meetings, please visit www.heritagetrust.on.ca/badlands.