It is not uncommon for tourists like GaspÃ©siens to spend the night under the stars, setting up a tent to sleep on one of the region’s pristine beaches.
Nancy Gaul, a resident of Douglastown, southeast of the town of GaspÃ©, said most locals know they are “leaving no trace” of their passage, but with a recent wave of tourists, these beaches are taking over. a blow.
âWe have noticed an influx, I would say twenty times, in the number of campers,â Gaul said.
In June, the city of GaspÃ© decided that it would not allow travelers to set up tents or park their RVs for free on municipal streets or in public parks.
Perhaps this is why a swamp expanse near Douglastown Beach has become a magnet for travelers who want to camp in the wilderness.
The city did not have the power to keep people away from beaches near Douglastown because they are under provincial jurisdiction and belong to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
With no toilets or amenities on site, the arrival of tourists coincided with the appearance of trash, bottles, human excrement, and even a van seat.
Camping on public land is allowed for up to seven months, the ministry said in an email. He said he would inspect the area but is not responsible for site maintenance.
Some local residents say they no longer feel comfortable walking to this quiet spot that has always been a favorite. They are angry with the campers, Gaul said.
“They are squatters. These people probably have a very good heart, but there are campsites that have the right [amenities] to camp. “
While many campgrounds are full, locals believe many travelers are on the beach because they are looking for a free place to camp in the wilderness.
‘Leave no trace’
Gaul would like camping to be banned on the site, but the spokesperson for a local citizens’ committee, GÃ©rard Gagnon, told Radio-Canada that he would prefer to see the beach better equipped.
He said the signs could educate campers not to leave any traces. Otherwise, the garbage could solve part of the problem.
âWe don’t want to prevent people from coming, but we want them to be equipped to pick up all their waste,â Gagnon told Radio-Canada.
Tim Adams, a member of the Mi’gmag Gespeg Nation who lives across Douglastown Bay in Penouille, said that although it is a minority of disrespectful campers, it affects the entire region.
âI just saw a diaper on the beach. Why did they leave her there? Adams asked. Many residents are walking around with plastic bags tied at their waists to pick up trash, he said.
In a Facebook post on July 11, the mayor of GaspÃ©, Daniel CÃ´tÃ©, said âbeaches are a fragile environment. They are neither race tracks nor dumping grounds â.
CÃ´tÃ© said the city was working with the province, as well as the provincial police, to find a way to deal with the problem.
Months of confinement
Isabelle Martin is co-director of the Douglastown Community Center, which operates a city hostel overlooking the beach.
She said that after months of confinement, many people are trying to find their own piece of heaven away from the crowds.
âPeople hope to be alone and they roam, and don’t realize the impact on the environment,â Martin said.
The hostel normally allows campers to come take a shower or do laundry. But with the new COVID-19 restrictions, they had to restrict access to their customers only.
COVID-19 boosts GaspÃ© tourism
Several hotel and tourist attraction owners told CBC that the 2020 season has started earlier than usual, with many Quebecers getting a head start on their summer vacation.
With the border between Canada and the United States closed, many are turning to their home province, making housing difficult to find.
Campgrounds with signs that read Full – No Vacancy – are commonplace along Route 132, which circles the peninsula.
With the two-week construction vacation starting this weekend, as thousands of Quebecers take time off work, many locals expect the pace to pick up even more.