The pristine beaches of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are soiled with rubbish and human waste, while Quebecers flock to the GaspÃ© for construction vacations.
Frustrated elected officials beg campers and other visitors to enjoy nature without messing it up.
The PQ member for GaspÃ©, MÃ©ganne Perry MÃ©lanÃ§on, described the situation as “worrying” in a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying she is working with the minister responsible for the region, Marie-Ãve ââProulx, as well as with the Ministry of Public Security, to increase police surveillance in the region.
In a tweet Thursday, the Quebec Provincial Police said patrols will be increased in tourist areas to ensure people follow public health rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks.
However, the police do not threaten the consequences.
“The presence of our police officers is intended above all to be preventive,” said the SÃ»retÃ© du QuÃ©bec.
From #patrols targeted will be assigned to tourist sites throughout the territory served by the SÃ»retÃ© du QuÃ©bec. The purpose of these patrols is to protect the population and ensure compliance with current health standards, including the wearing of face coverings.
MelanÃ§on encouraged the people of the GaspÃ© to report illegal behavior to the police.
“While this additional surveillance will ensure better safety for occupants and citizens, we know that this response from the ministry cannot be the only solution,” she said.
“It’s a bit hell this year”: mayor of GaspÃ©
The behavior of many campers has shocked local elected officials, and the mayor of GaspÃ©, Daniel CÃ´tÃ©, fears that there may be public health problems, because raw human waste taints the landscape.
“People have sort of appropriated public land, which has become almost private in some cases,” he told the Radio-Canada show, Good start, good time!
“It’s a bit of hell this year.”
Tourists have pitched tents and parked campers wherever they can find space, now that COVID-19 has closed Quebec’s borders with the Maritimes and the United States.
People camp on marshes and beaches, as well as in woods and parking lots, while towns struggle to cope with crowds, directing them to cheap campgrounds and posting signs urging people not to. leave no trace.
So far, the signs seem to have had little effect.
Les MÃ©chins, a town of 1,100 residents on the St. Lawrence River, about 150 kilometers northeast of Rimouski, said in a Facebook post that people with recreational vehicles empty their septic tanks directly on the beaches, despite the fact that there are many places to safely dispose of human waste throughout the peninsula.
Anyone who detects this behavior is encouraged to register license plates and report it, the city says.
Forest fires and erosion risks worry authorities
Not far from scenic Cap Mont-Joli in Quebec City, PercÃ© Mayor Cathy Poirier said her greatest fear was that a carelessly lit campfire could ignite dry vegetation and end in tragedy.
The council of the Mi’gmag Gespeg Nation called on the neighboring town of GaspÃ© to be more proactive, calling the situation “out of control”.
Beyond the risk of wildfires, the council said in a statement that driftwood plays an important role in erosion control, yet people burn it without knowing the consequences.
In addition, the nesting grounds of some migratory birds are excessively disturbed by all the activity, he said.
The mayor of GaspÃ© agrees with the First Nations community and says that it is high time for visitors to clean up their behavior.
“The people of the GaspÃ© are welcoming, have open arms, but you need a minimum of respect for the residents,” said CÃ´tÃ©. “Beaches are not campsites. Forests are not campsites. Our car parks are not campsites.”