Montreal is not the only municipality to have used the St. Lawrence as a garbage dump. Old dumps can be found all along the river. One of my readers commented on one of my blogs. “I spent part of my childhood between Varennes and Vercheres; there was no garbage collection in those days. The river was the solution!”
In my blog titled “Garbage juices” the main subject was the Point St. Charles garbage dump that is still, to this day, polluting the river with toxic chemicals. The other garbage dumps found along the river do the same but they also suffer from shoreline erosion which slowly allows garbage to escape and float into the River, sometimes towards some of the jewels of nature that can be found along the St. Lawrence. The erosion is getting worse with time and the governments are slow to react. Following are two good examples.
The citizens of Rivière-Saint-Jean, a small village located in Minganie on the North Shore also have to deal with a garbage dump that was used for a century. The shore where the dump is located suffers from severe erosion and the garbage is being dispersed in the river. The dump is only a few kilometres from the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.
In an article that appeared in Le Devoir in 2017, the journalist Alexandre Shields writes. “The Quebec government has been aware of the problem since 2015.” In the same article, we find out that, following a request for help from the municipality, the Environment Ministry came to the conclusion that the municipality was responsible for the upkeep of the garbage dump. I would be curious to know the name of the brilliant bureaucrat who came up with this reply.
Thank God someone figured out that a municipality with 220 citizens was not in a position to solve the problem. The bureaucracy then did what it often does; it transferred the file elsewhere to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. There, the bureaucrats studied the file for three years while garbage was escaping and polluting the Saint-Jean River and the Mingan Archipelago. The Couillard government then decided that the Saint-Jean River, a well-known salmon river, should be considered a historic site; by magic, cleaning of the garbage dump began shortly after.
It is not a coincidence that the cleanup began just after an announcement from the government. The Anticosti Island is another example; the current government is considering protecting the island. There again a garbage dump is spreading garbage into the river and on the shores of the island. The area is being considered to become a World Heritage site by UNESCO and should receive the visit of officials. Like we all do when receiving guests, we clean the house. According to a Le Devoir article. “Temporary work was performed last August and 1500 litres of broken glass, 500 litres of various materials and 4 tons of metal were removed.”
It appears that garbage dumps are cleaned up only in exceptional cases as if polluting the majestic St. Lawrence River is not enough. But the government apparatus sometimes work in a manner that defies logic. I would not be surprised, one day, to read that some bureaucrat is trying to convince us that these garbage dumps are part of our heritage and should remain untouched so that in a hundred years archeologist can dig into them to discover how we lived at the beginning of the twenty-first century.