A few years back I was appalled by Montrealers who carelessly threw their trash all over the city streets. Even more appalling was how they brought that same behavior into the surrounding Nature Parks. Coming from California this was a total culture shock.
At the Time I decided to document the over abundant accumulation of trash on the banks of Montreal’s Back River (Rivières des Prairies) along the Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park. With a bit of pressure from my videos and pictures it appeared that the overall problem was at least being addressed by park and city officials.
Time Warp to 2012, 12 days after Earth Day 2012 (Aprill 22) and what I witnessed was even more shocking. On Friday May 4, 2012 I found myself in Montreal. It was a cloudy day that didn’t inspire me much as far as photography was concerned. I decided to go for walk and visit the Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park. I packed a DX body with a 35mm lens and headed for the Back River.
It was an instant shock! The shores were packed with washed up trash, cups, water bottles, caps, plastic bags, condoms, tampon applicators and whatever else you can imagine. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The fishing season had not even began and the shores were littered with junk beyond comprehension.
I kept walking not inspired to invest the energy in documenting it all until I came across the mother load! A snapping turtle moving around surrounded by trash and debris! That’s when I decided it was time to take out the camera and start snapping. I was so repulsed that I felt compelled to make an Instagram with my phone in order to immediately bring attention to the problem.
Finding this turtle in these unacceptable conditions, less than two weeks after Earth Day, propelled me back to 2009, documenting the disgraceful behavior of Montreal’s Nature Park Visitors.
In Montreal Earth Day celebrations brought out crowds in record numbers, almost 300,000 attended! Yet apart from a symbolic march across the City Core I’ve yet to see an environmentally positive change anywhere in the City of Montreal or its surrounding municipalities.
In addition to the thousands of visitors per year, May brings thousands of people lined up along the shorelines to fish. Junk from fishing tackle wrappers to fast food containers are left littering the shoreline every single day by these fishermen. Fishing line and hooks left behind often end up as a deadly trap for the local wildlife. Just last weekend Joel Coutu rescued two baby Canada Geese entangled in fishing wire. (Visit Falco Ornitho on Facebook for details)
Although the park officially closes at Sunset, teenagers party along its shore, at night, leaving behind a mess for others to clean up or for the waters to wash away into the oceans. Often glass containers are left broken along the banks creating an added danger to visitors.
The lack of enforcement and patrolling as also opened the doors to narcotics trafficking and prostitution within Ahuntsic as the park offers seclusion and privacy by night.
Montrealers are quick to talk about the problem of plastic litter polluting our oceans. They seem to forget that Montreal is an Island on a waterway that leads directly into the Atlantic Ocean. They are responsible for a great deal of what is polluting our oceans. They City operated Espace Pour La Vie (Space For Life) even blogs about the problem but like hypocrites don’t denounce Montrealers and surrounding Cities as a large source of the problem. They try and blame the wind for earth bound trash being blown into the oceans. Stand on the shores of Montreal for 5 minutes and you’ll see people just dumping their trash into the local rivers.
The City of Montreal does almost nothing to educate its residence. It’s shorelines and Nature Parks have become a free for all leaving very little space for nature itself. The little effort that is made only points a finger to the global problem but falls short of taking action at home where the residents pollute.
Unfortunately Montreal is engulfed in a problematic. Student protest that goes far beyond tuition fees are now slowly turning into a revolution against corrupt Government at the local municipal level as well as the Provincial level. Law 78 which makes Putin’s Anti Protest bill sound like a nursery rhyme is now bringing around the clock protest from people of all ages and backgrounds. Exactly One Month after Earth Day (May 22) a total of almost Half a Million people took to the Streets for Day and Night protest marking the 100th day of Student strikes and a formal civil defiance of Charest’s anti protest bill, Law 78.
Hopefully this will bring about a change were we’ll see a better balance between Urban life and respect for the surrounding environment. Until then this article will probably go mostly unnoticed. One more fishing season will have brought about tons of plastic trash headed for our Oceans. Maybe next year people will protest polluters!