ENGLISH SUMMARY

 First thing first:

  • to sign our province-wide petition calling for the reform of the flyer distribution system, click here.


You may believe that you only need to put an anti-flyer logo on your mailbox, but unfortunately, solving the leaflet problem does not begin and end with that move. 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 Montreal's By-Law Concerning the Distribution of Advertising Material states that mail­boxes and doorknobs are the only valid options. And to add 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.

  • For a list of 6123 infractions by the Transcontinental distribution company (most of them within a 30-block neighbourhood), click here.


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 $12,243,600 in fines, but in October 2018, they admitted publicly that they weren't willing to go down that route.


So we adopted a different strategy, and proposed two amendments to the by-laws, first to the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie council, and then to City Hall. Such amendments would:


  • end the practice of delivering flyers to everyone but those who object, and replace it by a system akin to the one enforced by the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, which states that online circulars can only be sent to people who expressly request them (in other words, stop forcing objectors to use "no leaflet" logos and have subscribers post "pro-leaflet" logos);

  • ban the use of plastic bags for leaflets (just like Montreal has done with shopping bags) and replace them with envelopes which wouldn't require triage before recycling.


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. 


We'll be promoting this two-prong approach during public consultations on this very issue (TBA), as well as the City's public consultation on its refuse policies, which is slated for the fall of 2019. We'll need as many citizens as possible to testify against the plastic-wrapped madness of circulars, so if you want to help, please start by letting us know what city and borough you're from!


Thank you. 

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About the author

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.