News  Occupy Montreal seeks to improve sustainability at Place du Peuple

Committees struggle with cost of removing financial waste

Correction appended Nov. 2

With 500 demonstrators inhabiting “Place du Peuple” – formerly Square Victoria – as part of the Occupy Montreal movement, multiple committees have been created to deal with the environmental impact of the occupation. Activities such as composting, recycling, and the management of human waste fall under the purview of the occupation’s committees.

Erin, a volunteer who has worked in the kitchen for four days, told The Daily that, so far, the kitchen iniative has been a success.

“About two-thirds of food comes from individual donors,” she explained. “Various restaurants, catering, and cooking companies have donated food and appliances as well.”

“Meat is avoided for sanitary reasons,” she continued. “We feed up to 500 people a day and, therefore, waste surprisingly little.” The most common dishes include bean salads, rice and tuna salads, quinoa, soup, and curries.

According to Sara Ducharme, a member of the kitchen committee, different organizations have been cooking for the occupiers.

“The Raging Grannies cooked French toast for us one morning,” Ducharme said, referring to the Montreal sector of the international non-violent activist group.

Ducharme expained that the kitchen committee recently created an energy-conserving bike-powered blender, which she said is “great for cutting vegetables, and you get a workout.”

Jessy Bruneau, who has been occupying Place du Peuple since the movement began on October 15, explained that coffee has been readily available. “Santropol and Starbucks have been generous, but about two-thirds of our coffee comes from individual donors,” he said.

Composting and recycling bins are positioned throughout the community, and according to Ducharme, “the kitchen committee composts as much possible.”

However, rules concerning individuals’ recycling cannot be imposed.

“This is a free movement,” said Ducharme. “People should be able to do as they wish.”

According to Zoe Wolfe, a member of the environmental committee, sanitation is the biggest concern for occupiers.

Wolfe explained that the committee has plans to create dry toilets, and added that, although they have drawn up sketches of structures, this process will take time.

Wolfe explained that this is not only an environmental issue, but a financial one as well. Toilet facilities have been set up on-site, but are not being donated. Toilets have been purchased for $75 each.

According to Wolfe, clearing the waste is costing the committee $900 a week.

“I use the toilets around me, mostly in commercial centers,” said Ducharme. “There are public toilets about a two minute walk away, and I go to Palais des Congrès a lot.”

Wolfe said that occupiers are currently undergoing discussions to create a Sanitation Committee.

“We do really need a committee [for sanitation and waste],” she said. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re working on it, and we want to have a positive impact.”


In an earlier version of this story, it was incorrectly stated that Occupy Montreal began on September 15. The movement began on October 15.

The Daily regrets the error.