*** Update from October 17 ***

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I need to make this announcement.
I was denied an extension by the NCC on keeping the gym open until end of the winter. Therefore, the gym will be closing December 31st.

For those holding memberships past the closure, you won’t be left hanging, as we are currently working on various solutions.

Stay tuned for relocation news!!!!

The popular indoor climbing gym, Vertical Reality, woke up to surprise and unpleasant news earlier this week as the NCC annouced it was closing Victoria Island to the public as of December 31st, 2018.

From the Vertical Reality Facebook page on October 2nd:

I am sure that a lot of you have seen the news that Victoria Island is contaminated and will be closing December 31st. As I was given less than 24 hour notice by NCC (my landlord) I am in as much of a shock as you are. Please be assured that We are working with my lawyers and NCC to get more information. As new information arrives we will be sure to keep you in the loop. With the help of the amazing climbing community we have created in the many years, rest assured that we will continue with a NEW VERTICAL REALITY in a different location.

Thank you for understanding
Petra and the VR crew

The outpouring of support for Vertical Reality, a mainstay in Ottawa’s climbing community since 1993, was immediate, and reflected in another post from the VR folks the next day:

I can not even put it into words how appreciative we are from the overwhelming responses/support received from all of you.

As promised, to keep you in the loop, I have a meeting tomorrow with NCC and I’m really hoping I will be able to answer your questions.

Thank you again 
Petra and the VR crew.

And it sounds like the relationship between the NCC and Vertical Reality is still in good standing, as is reflected by their most recent post:

After our meeting today, we are very optimistic that with the new positive relationship with NCC we will bring back a bigger better Vertical Reality.

The NCC is performing remedial work on the site, which has been contaminated since the days of paper plans and other industrial activity on Victoria Island and the surrounding area.

From the NCC’s website:

Starting today, Victoria Island — a place of special significance to the Indigenous peoples in Canada’s Capital area- will be gradually closed to the general public, as well as to tenants, and will be completely closed on December 31, 2018. Soil samples taken on the island reveal an elevated level of contaminants, which requires immediate remediation work to ensure the long-term safety in terms of both human health and the environment.

The work to be undertaken is quite substantial and will last about 7 years. To be completed by spring 2020:

  • Remediation of the slope on the west side
  • Supplemental environmental site assessment activities on the east side
  • Development of a remedial action plan for the east and west sides.

Then Phase 2 begins, which will be undertaken between 2020 and 2025, and will include:

  • Full-depth remediation or installation of an engineered cap on current commercial areas on the west side where remediation is not technically feasible
  • Installation of an engineered cap on current parkland areas on both the east and west sides.


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Barry Switnicki
Barry Switnicki

So sad that Vertical Reality has to close their doors! It’s really too bad that this NCC group seems to have such a poor sense of community and appears to be so rigid and uncompromising
When I went to Ottawa Vertical Reality was always a place to visit and climb at- wonderful welcoming community.
Ottawa will be significantly less with it’s closing….