Mount Royal Park – the 200-hectare jewel set aside for public use in the centre of Montreal – is being left strewn with garbage after any sunny weekend, and a resident of neighbouring Westmount is urging visitors to help keep the park clean.
"As soon as the weather gets nice, people start using the mountain," Paula Engels told CBC Radio's host of Daybreak, Mike Finnerty. "People are enjoying this beautiful mountain that we have...and they should."
- Listen to Daybreak host Mike Finnerty's interview with Westmount resident Paula Engels
- Radio Noon listeners weigh in with their ideas to manage garbage in Mount Royal Park
However, many people are leaving empty cases of beer, soft drink cans, wine bottles and other refuse from their parties on or around picnic tables and piled around overflowing garbage cans.
Raccoons, squirrels and other park inhabitants feast on it and spread the mess around.
"It's just gotten really out of control," said Engels, who has been walking on the mountain for years. "Especially Monday morning – but other mornings, too."
"You watch these poor blue-collar workers try to clean this mess up, and it's just an impossible task," she said, adding park users don't seem to realize the garbage only gets picked up the next morning and not the same day as they've had their picnic.
Citizens responsible too, councillor says
Engels has a number of suggestions, including:
- More garbage cans, strategically placed
- Garbage cans with lids to keep out raccoons, seagulls and other wildlife
- Signs next to garbage receptacles, asking people not to pile up garbage around full containers, along with pictograms warning people their garbage attracts animals
- Recycling containers for returnable cans and bottles
Réal Ménard, the Montreal executive committee member responsible for parks and green space, told Daybreak that citizens have to take some responsibility for the park's cleanliness.
"We are going to...make sure it's clean," Ménard said. "But of course that cannot be only the responsibility of the people who are elected or the City of Montreal."
Engels doesn't disagree. However, she says more and better designed garbage cans as well as recycling receptacles might send a strong message to park users that the City of Montreal cares about the park.
She also urged the city to consider more radical solutions, such as banning barbecues.
"If it was up to me, I'd say, 'No barbecuing,'" she said.
However, the problem is not limited to picnic areas in the park.
In the vicinity of the Georges-Étienne Cartier statue on Parc Avenue – the site of the weekly Sunday Tam-Tams' drum festival – municipal clean-up crews often find garbage bins deliberately overturned on Monday mornings.
The culprits are people scavenging for returnable bottles and cans who don't bother righting the cans and their contents once they've found their treasure.