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Covid-19

Why are areas blocked off?

Heartland Forest’s Nature Centre and surrounding property have been blocked off for public access. As per Niagara Public Health and the Niagara Falls By-law department Heartland Forest is not permitted to run programs where the public has access. These blocked off areas provide a safe programming space for our participants and staff.

Are Washrooms Available?

Due to the restrictions put in place around COVID-19 Heartland Forest’s washroom facility located at the park entrance may only be accessed by registered program participants and may not be used by the general public as per the direction of Niagara Public Health and the Niagara Falls by-law department. 

Portable washrooms located to the right of train station have been provided for public use and are sanitized twice daily as per recommendations by Public Health.

Can we visit the treehouse?

Heartland Forest uses the treehouse as a dedicated program space. Due to the restrictions put in place around COVID-19 dedicated program spaces may not have public access; Heartland Forest’s Treehouse may only be accessed by registered program participants as per the direction of Niagara Public Health and the Niagara Falls by-law department. 

The ramp and surrounding deck of the treehouse remains open to the public to explore but we ask all visitors to be mindful of any programming Heartland Forest is facilitating in the area and to please give our staff and participants space.

Can we bring a large group for a visit?

Heartland Forest’s asks that anyone visiting the property maintains the rules and guidelines put in place by government of Ontario in regards to social gatherings and social distancing. Visitors caught breaking these rules may be asked to leave the property. 

Any events or large gatherings organized by another agency, organization must receive permission from Heartland Forest before first.

Can we visit the Nature Centre?

Heartland Forest uses the Nature Centre as a dedicated program space. Due to the restrictions put in place around COVID-19 dedicated program spaces may not have public access; Heartland Forest’s Nature Centre may only be accessed by program participants as per the direction of Niagara Public Health and the Niagara Falls by-law department.

Curbside Pick-ups and other exceptions may apply and will be determined on a case by case basis. Anyone visiting the Nature Centre must make an appointment to do so.

Operations

Is Heartland Forest a charity?

Yes! Our charitable registration number is #885642801

What are Heartland Forest’s Business Hours?

  • The Nature Centre is open from 9am-3pm Monday-Friday 
  • The Info Booth is open seasonally from May-September from the hours of 11:30am-7:30pm 7 days a week 
  • Heartland’s trails are open year-round 7 days a week, trail times vary with the season and can be found here

Lost or missing items

Lost or missing items can be turned into the Info Booth where they are stored in our lost and found bin. Any item of a high value that is turned into the Info Booth will be brought to the Nature Centre.

If a visitor is looking for an item that has not been turned in they may leave their name and number for a member of Heartland Forest to contact them if the item is eventually found. 

Heartland Forest will only hold lost and found items for 3 months, any unclaimed items will then be donated to the Goodwill or Value Village.

How do I become a volunteer?

Anyone interested in volunteering can be provided with our volunteer interests sheet to be completed and turned in to the Volunteer Coordinator. Once the completed form is handed back the interested candidate will be informed they may be contacted when a volunteer opportunity becomes available in their interested areas.

Volunteer Opportunities are posted here

How to apply for a job?

If an employment position is available at Heartland Forest we will post job descriptions on our own website here and on Indeed.com. Anyone applying to a posted position should follow any directions listed on the job description.

Job Opportunities are posted here

Can I post a flyer around your property?

Flyers and other advertisements for anything unrelated to Heartland Forest must first receive approval from the Executive Director before they are permitted to be posted. 

Advertisements that have not received the proper permissions will be removed.

Can I post a flyer on your activities board?

No, Heartland Forest’s Activities Board is used strictly to outline the events and activities that are happening throughout Heartland Forest.

Property/Park

What does it cost to visit Heartland Forest?

It is free to visit the park, walk the trails and paths and play on the playground. A small fee for rides and some activities may be required.

How long are the trails?

Trail A (442m) = approximately 5-10 minutes at a leisurely pace 

Trail B (926m) = approximately 20-25 minutes at a leisurely pace

Trail C (275m) = approximately 10 minutes at a leisurely pace 

Trail D (124m) = approximately 5 minutes at a leisurely pace 

Trail E (540m) = approximately 15 minutes at a leisurely pace

Are the trails accessible?

Heartland Forest has several trails that can be easily accessed with a wheelchair, scooter or stroller. Trails A, B and D, along with the majority of the surrounding park and the observation tower.

Are dogs allowed?

Yes, dogs are allowed on the property provided they are kept on a leash at all times and are cleaned up after.

Is there poison oak/ivy?

Yes, Heartland Forest’s property does have poison ivy and oak. It is strongly recommended that visitors do not leave the path while walking through the forest.

Are there ticks?

Yes, Heartland Forest’s property does have ticks. It is strongly recommended to avoid walking through high grass areas, to use insect repellant and to check over oneself and any children/vulnerable people once they get home.

Can I go on the Merry-go-Round?

The merry-go-round must be operated by a Heartland Forest employee. 

If someone wishes to ride the merry-go-round they can purchase a ticket at anytime during the day and the attendant will record their timeslot.

When can people ride the train?

The train ride schedule will be posted on the activities board. If someone wishes to ride the train they can purchase a ticket at anytime during the day and the attendant will record their timeslot.

I lost my activity ticket what I can do?

Anyone who loses a ticket will still be permitted to attend their activity provided they can show proof of purchase with a receipt. 

I missed my timeslot what can I do?

Customers who purchase tickets for specific timeslots are responsible for ensuring they are on time to their activity. Anyone who misses a timeslot will be required to purchase a ticket for a new available timeslot to participate in the activity.

Can we use the campfire pit?

No. Heartland Forest must follow all Niagara Falls open air burning by-laws and can not allow the general public to use the fire pit unsupervised. Heartland Forest only uses our fire pit for our programming and events.

Can we use a pavilion for a picnic lunch / Cost of pavilions / Renting pavilions?

Pavilions may be rented for private use; any pavilion rental must be pre-arranged and paid for before the day of the visit. All pavilion rentals must be in accordance with Public Health and Niagara Falls by-law requirements. 

Pavilions available for private use include the Wolf and Coyote Den, Heartland Forest does not rent the Bear or Fox den at this time. click here to rent a pavilion

Can we rent the mini-putt for a private party/event?

All pavilion rentals include dedicated time for mini-putt use. The Mini-putt will be reserved for the last 30 minutes of the rental. 

The mini-putt may not be reserved outside of pavilion rentals.

Can we do a photoshoot here?

Heartland Forest’s park is open to the public, it is acceptable for a member of the public to do a photoshoot onsite, but Heartland Forest will not allow the closing off of any public access areas to do so, or grant access to dedicated program areas not open to the public at this time.

Is fishing allowed?

No, Heartland Forest does not allow fishing in our ponds.

Can we catch frogs?

No. Heartland Forest asks that all wildlife is only observed and not touched at anytime.

Can pet turtles/fish/frogs/lizards be released on the property?

No, the release of “pets” into the wild is prohibited and can have catastrophic environmental impact on native species

Injured and rehoming animals

Heartland Forest does not accept or work with exotic pets or wild animals. Anyone looking for more information on what to do with an injured or abandoned animal may contact the Ontario Wildlife Rescue or search the list of registered wildlife rehabilitators on the Ontario governments website.  ontariowildliferescue.ca 

learningcompass.learnflex.net/Upload/Public/WildlifeRehabilitatorsPublicList.htm

Memorials

Can I plant a tree in memory of a loved one here?

No, while Heartland Forest is always honored by the thought of having a tree planted on our property we have made the difficult decision to not include this as a memorial option. Factors including drought conditions and limited staffing and volunteers means we can not sustain the care of newly planted trees at this time. 

Are there pet memorial options?

Heartland Forest hopes to offer pet memorial options in the summer of 2022.

Camp

To contact us about camp, use our Contact Form and select Day Camp in the drop down list.

Heartland Forest is committed to the safety of our camp participants. Our summer camp has been modified in order to comply with new COVID-19 guidelines for Camp from the Ontario Ministry of Health.

How will camp be different?

To protect Children and Staff at camp, we will be making modifications to group sizes, camp activities, physical distancing, cleaning and sanitizing. Safety Protocols and Response Plans are in place to comply with the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Due to modifications to this year’s camp and staffing, we are unable to offer inclusive camp spots as we have done in previous years. If your child is a returning camper with special needs who previously enjoyed and participated in an 8:1 ratio please contact us to discuss registration.

What are your group sizes?

Small group sizes – 8 campers and 2 counsellors per group or “cohort”. There are only two cohorts per week that are operating separately from one another Each cohort will have a dedicated sign in and out area, lunch location and washrooms.

Can my child change cohorts?

No, members of each cohort including counsellors must stay together for the week and not directly interact with other cohorts.

Will cohorts share equipment with other cohorts?

Cohorts will have designated equipment that is not shared with other cohorts without proper disinfecting. Cohorts will separately schedule use of equipment/spaces that are shared so that they may be disinfected between uses. Furthermore, activities have been chosen to minimize the sharing and frequency of touching of objects, toys, equipment and surfaces by different individuals.

What activities have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

To comply with COVID-19 requirements, there will be no food prep activities or special guests during camp. We can introduce some of our live animals but we can’t touch them. Large group games and activities (over 10 people) or games that encourage close contact with other participants will not be played. Camp staff has carefully chosen fun activities and games that can be played while physically distanced.

What about inclement weather?

Camp locations have been chosen to ensure there is adequate, climate controlled space for each Cohort. In case of inclement weather including heat warnings and lightening, one cohort will have use of the Nature Centre Art Studio and adjacent bathrooms. The other cohort will have use of the Nature Centre Forestview and adjacent bathrooms. To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 programs will be operating outdoors as much as possible.

Will my child be remaining physically distanced within their cohort?

Campers will always be encouraged to physical distance within their cohort. Games and activities have been selected and modified to promote distancing and still have fun! However distancing may not be possible at all times and parents should be aware that their children will likely have close or direct contact with others within their cohort.

Are Facemasks required?

Face masks will not be required to be worn within cohorts but a child may be asked to wear PPE provided by our Staff in certain scenarios. Please pack a mask for your child. Campers may choose to wear face masks if parents/guardians prepare their children to do so. Please note that face coverings should be changed if visibly soiled, damp, or damaged.

Daily screenings

A copy of the daily screening form will be sent along with your Welcome Letter for your use each morning before traveling to Heartland for camp. Please follow directions and stay home if needed.

Counsellors will perform a screening with parent/guardian and campers before children can enter camp including a touchless temperature reading.

What about cleaning and disinfecting?

Cohorts will have designated equipment that is not shared with other cohorts without proper cleaning and disinfecting. Activities have been chosen to minimize the sharing and frequency of touching toys, equipment and other surfaces. High touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected frequently and all camp equipment is cleaned and disinfected after cohort use. Additional opportunities have been scheduled in for performing and promoting frequent, proper hand hygiene.

Are their separate washrooms for each cohort?

Instead of gendered washrooms, each cohort will have their own dedicated washrooms which will allow for one participant at a time. Increased cleaning and disinfecting will also be practiced in the washrooms.

Can my children be in the same group?

Cohorts are in groups of ages 5-6 or 7-9. This aligns with social bubbles and contact tracing purposes. Allowances will be made for siblings close in age to be in the same cohort. If a sibling is age 6 or 7 you may choose to place them in with a sibling in the younger or older cohort.

Can I stay with my child while they settle in or stay to observe them?

Unfortunately due to strict requirements on gathering sizes, parents will not be able to accompany their child into the camp area. Our staff will be sharing photos, updates and videos with parents throughout the week to ensure you can share in your child’s experience at camp.

Can campers with special needs register?

Heartland Forest is able to offer limited spaces in a dedicated cohort for our special needs campers. Campers placed in 1:1, 3:1 and LIT (leader-in-training) will become 1 cohort. The special needs program cohort will not intermingle with the other two cohorts.

Campers with special needs must arrange for an interview by contacting before they may register for a space.

If your child is a returning camper with special needs who previously enjoyed and participated in an 8:1 ratio please contact us to discuss registration.

Gift Shop

Is shipping available?

To keep the cost of items down Heartland Forest does not provide shipping through the mail. When Heartland is running a promotion on delivery the staff of Heartland Forest will hand deliver items to the buyer’s address.

Check the Nature Shop page for current shipping promotions.

How does onsite pick up work?

Any item purchased online will be available for pick up at Heartland Forest (8215 Heartland Forest Road, Niagara Falls) during our regular scheduled business hours Monday-Friday 9am-4pm or during a prearranged time.

When you arrive at Heartland Forest simply present your order number at the front reception desk and sign for your item.

If you need to schedule a pick up time outside of our regular scheduled business hours please contact woodshop@heartlandforest.org to schedule a time.

Please Note: due to limited storage space Heartland Forest will only hold items for 30 days from the time of purchase before canceling an order that has not been retrieved. If an order is canceled because an item was not picked up no refund will be provided for items $25 or less, any items over $25 will be refunded minus a $25 administration fee.

Can I return or exchange an item from the Nature Shop?

All items purchased from the Nature Shop are final sale.

What forms of payment are accepted?

For online sales we accept Visa and Mastercard.

Is there tax?

All tax is worked into the price of the item, the price you see listed is the exact price you will pay.

Can I request a special order?

Yes! If you have a special item you’d like to see created or if you would like to order multiples of a single item, please use our special-order request form by clicking here.

Are the items online the only items available to be purchased?

The items online are only a small portion of the many beautifully hand-crafted items for sale in our Nature Shop. Many of these items are one of a kind or made in very limited numbers.

What happens if I lose my order number?

Don’t worry! Heartland Forest will be able to identify your order number by verifying the name, email and telephone number listed on the purchase.

Where do the proceeds from my purchase go?

All proceeds of Nature Shop sales go directly back into Heartland Forest programming.

Why do some items say “item may vary”?

All items sold in Heartland Forest’s Nature Shop are hand made and may have slight variations in size and colour.

Any item that is listed as “live edge” means either the entire item or a portion of the item has not been altered from its original natural state. Natural items may have a greater difference in size and shape; if you are concerned about the item’s appearance, we encourage you to contact us before making the purchase.

What do I do if I have questions about an order?

To contact us about Gift Shop sales select “Gift Shop” on the contact form drop down.

School Visits

How do I book a program?

You will complete a request form with all of your school information, then you will select the date of your trip.

How do I change my booking?

Call in to manage your bookings. (905)394-9168

I finished the booking process. What now?

If you’re done the Programming Request Form and have selected a date, your trip is considered booked. If there are any issues with your booking submission, you will be contacted within two business days. Otherwise, we’re excited to have you visiting soon!

What forms of payment are accepted?

Cheque is preferred, but we can accept Visa, MasterCard and cash. Full cost is based on the number of participants stated on the Programming Request Form (or the minimum cost of twenty [20] participants, whichever is greater).

When is payment due?

You can submit payment 2 weeks prior to your visit. Timely payment is appreciated.

What if we come with fewer students than booked?

To adjust the number of participants, simply confirm the number of participants exactly TWO WEEKS prior to your visit. Cost will be based on the adjusted number of participants or the minimum cost of twenty (20) participants, whichever is greater.

How long are the programs?

Programs run from 9:30am to 2:00pm including breaks for snack and lunch, unless otherwise stated in any programming publications. If early departure is needed after the booking is made, please advise our staff upon arrival.

Note: Early Learners, ELKP, and Special Needs may book half-day programs (2 hours).

What if we have to cancel?

A minimum of fifteen (15) days notice is required to cancel a booking without penalty. Bookings canceled within fifteen (15) days of a booking will be charged a $25 cancellation fee. Confirmed groups that do not attend and do not provide notice will be charged the full booking price.

Do programs run in all weather conditions?

Our programs will continue to run in rainy and/or snowy conditions. Please come prepared and dressed for the weather. Pavilions are in place to accommodate and adjust programming in the case of inclement weather.

Is there a place to eat?

Picnic pavilions are included within all program bookings for snack and lunch times. We have a litterless lunch and allergy-free policy. Note: For special morning programs, please advise at the time of booking as to if the group will stay for lunch. Indoor space may be reserved with advanced booking. Cleaning fees apply.

Where do buses drop off?

Drop off location changes. You can call in or use our contact form a few days ahead.
There is ample free parking on site.

How does Heartland Forest handle allergies?

Heartland Forest is an allergy-free facility. We ask that all visitors comply, but we cannot guarantee a completely allergy-free environment.

Is there a place to buy food or drinks?

There is no place on site to purchase products. We have a litterless and allergy-free lunch policy.

Is the facility wheelchair-accessible?

The Heartland Forest Nature Experience property was purposefully designed around accessibility. Most of the facilities are fully accessible and we are endorsed by Accessible Niagara.

Are the mosquitoes/ticks bad?

We do have insects on the property that may bite or sting, but occurrences are rare. Proper precautions such as staying on the trails and wearing light-coloured clothing are recommended. Should you wish to apply bug spray, please do so outside and well away from any entrances.

How many chaperones are allowed?

All school staff are complimentary. Other adults, such as parents, are charged a $4.00 program fee.

Are there washroom facilities?

There are facilities at the Nature Centre that are open during office hours. We have a new washroom facility by the playground area.

Can we do a custom program?

Requests can be sent by email and will be considered under the discretion of the program team. Please send any requests by using our contact form and selecting programming.

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