Closure of Cheltenham Badlands a disappointment to visitors

WATCH ABOVE: One of Ontario’s best known natural attractions closed to public. The Cheltenham Badlands will be off limits for a very long time. Christina Stevens reports. 

The Cheltenham Badlands is an almost other-worldly place; a seven-hectare area of exposed iron-rich Queenston Shale bedrock deposited over 445 million years ago.

But now the Caledon gem has been closed, a fence erected to keep visitors out. It’s part of a plan that is in development to protect the rare natural landscape.

“The Cheltenham Badlands is one of Ontario’s geological treasures and is one of the best examples of Badland topography in the province,” a statement regarding the closure said.

“Over the years, its distinctive landscape has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors, resulting in accelerated erosion of the sensitive red shale surface and permanently changing its unique appearance.”

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It’s a popular attractions for tourists and locals alike, for wedding photos and family portraits. And while the announcement was made in early May, apparently there was no signage added to the area warning of impending closure.

Paramjit Grewal, visiting from California, was at the site earlier in the week and had full access. On Friday he decided to bring his wife to the site, but found a fence in his way.

He says there was nothing to indicate it would all be fenced off just days after his visit.

“I’m feeling bad and she’s also going to feel bad about it,” said Grewal. “We have travelled so much and missed our appointment today to see this place.”

Brenda Henke and her children drove an hour Friday to see the Badlands.

“It’s an exciting place to spend the day outdoors with the children and just such a unique site. I’ve never seen anything like this in Ontario,” said Henke.

But they too left disappointed.

The area is owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The trust was unavailable for comment Friday.

Caledon regional councillor Barb Shaughnessy said while it’s unfortunate visitors are disappointed, the area needs preserving and there’s no point in approaching the work half-way.

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“There’s no sense in doing a band aid effort because that doesn’t benefit the area or the conservation of the lands,” said Shaughnessy.

She said traffic in the area is also a big problem, with inadequate roadways and parking space posing additional problems when it comes to safety and the area’s preservation.

There is no word on exact plans for preservation or when the area will reopen, but it is expected to take several years.

With files from Christina Stevens