First thing first:
This said, solving the leaflet problem does not begin and end with posting a logo, for this issue extends far beyond your own yard. In Montreal, 900,000 bags of advertising material are left every week on the doorsteps of residents, most of whom never requested such deliveries. And since one of the leaflets is regularly granted a separate, transparent bag, the total often reaches 1.8 million bags. That's 500 weekly tons of unsolicited material which inevitably clog up our recycling network—since few people bother to separate the plastic bags from the paper contents, a must for the system to work properly.
In addition, distributors often ignore the logos. Also, the advertising material is frequently left on stairs, balconies or fenceposts, even though mailboxes and doorknobs are the only valid options, per Montreal's By-Law Concerning the Distribution of Advertising Material (or the nearly-identical variants adopted by each borough). Adding insult to injury, the straps that used to bind the bales of leaflets wind up on sidewalks by the hundreds, in violation of the By-Law Concerning Cleanliness (again, along with its borough variants).
The problem doesn't end there either. Both Transcontinental and municipal administrators have set up elaborate systems to handle protest letters—yet neither yield results in the long run. We filed more than 20 complaints in vain, and only managed to land promises of improvement when a TV crew got involved. Even then, Transcontinental was merely sent toothless warnings, and the number of spotted infractions actually increased in the following weeks. Had the rules been enforced adequately, City officials could have collected $32,038,000 in fines, but in October 2018, they admitted publicly that they weren't willing to go down that route.
These amendments have been enthusiastically endorsed by major ecological groups, including Équiterre, Greenpeace, the Suzuki Foundation, Nature Quebec, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Council of Canadians, and the indigenous defence charity RAVEN, as well as politicians from all the major provincial parties.
To lend your own support, take part in the public consultations organized by the City of Montreal, the Government of Quebec, or both:
- in Montreal, you'll have until October 9, 2019, to register here;
- throughout Quebec, you'll have until October 15, 2019, to write to consultationPECC@environnement.gouv.qc.ca.
Depending on the option you choose, call for an amendment to municipal bylaws or provincial laws. Specify that you're writing as a citizen who's concerned about climate change, and that you support the following proposals:
1) limiting flyer deliveries to people who are interested;
2) banning all plastic bags and wrappers in this context;
3) handing out steep fines to all offenders.
Charles Montpetit is a longtime activist and the author or co-author of 15 books, including the First Time anthology, the December 6 essay on the Montreal Massacre, and the children's fable The Great Menace. He has won a Governor General's Award, a Signet d'or and a White Raven (the latter being an honour granted to the world's best works for young people). And he's hopping mad about companies who refuse to do their share to pull the world back from the environmental brink.
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