Milton-Parc, the neighbourhood located adjacent to McGill’s downtown campus, encompasses the area between Sherbrooke and Pins (north/south) and University to St Laurent (west/east). Often referred to as the “McGill Ghetto,” the neighbourhood was inhabited by an estimated 1,500 McGill students in 2010, and continues to be occupied by students, who reside in the community as temporary residents. While most inhabitants of Milton-Parc are permanent residents, many of its historical locales have been dominated by student associations and groups, such as fraternity and sorority houses.
These student associations, along with the plethora of individual student inhabitants, produce a problematic amount of waste in the Milton-Parc area. The community has struggled with waste management largely because of student negligence for years, especially during move-out seasons. Permanent residents have expressed criticism over the poor handling of unwanted furniture and garbage, littered in disorganized piles on the streets. The issue is caused, in part, by students unaware of community regulations such as waste pick-up times, and apathetic about proper waste management the community.
The Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU), the Milton-Parc Citizens Community (MPCC), and the Dean of Students Office of McGill University have had an agreement on acquiring and enacting “good neighbour” practices since 2009. This pact, titled the CARE(Community Action and Relations Endeavours) agreement, details various activities and programs intended to improve the relationship between permanent residents and students.
SSMU VP External Connor Spencer explained to The Daily, “There are two big ways that [respect] impacts [Milton-Parc]. It’s the relations between the community and the students during frosh and other large-scale events, and it’s the respect when it comes to waste disposal. Those have been the two main concerns of the community when it comes to living next to a large student community.”
Hélène Brisson, a Vice President of the MPCC, commented on how this lack of respect for proper waste disposal affects the quality of life in the community, such as “the physical safety of those who walk in them,” and “the public health issues raised by garbage left for days in streets.”
Brisson mentioned how student “indifference to the cleanliness of streets” causes a strain the relationship between students and permanent residents, “generally speaking, the neighbours [permanent residents], shed the most unflattering light on how some students can be unpleasant neighbours,” said Brisson.
“Generally speaking, the neighbours [permanent residents], shed the most unflattering light on how some students can be unpleasant neighbours,” said Brisson.
Littering in the streets of Milton-Parc is a recurring problem for the community, especially during move-in and move-out seasons.
Tristan Best, a fourth year student at the Schulich School of Music, told The Daily, “there’s often broken glass all over the sidewalks, along with broken furniture and rotting garbage that gets in the way while walking and smells quite unpleasant. Students are living here only temporarily, but create enough of a mess to disrupt the lives of the residents of the Milton-Parc area. It’s extremely disrespectful, unsanitary, and reflects poorly on the University.”
Best mentioned that like many students, he “do[es] not know the schedule [for waste collection],” so “the superintendent of [his] apartment takes care of [the] trash.” Best believes that the lack of knowledge and action in the trash collection systems may be addressed with an intervention by SSMU, and that a “campaign to make the garbage collection schedules better known, and to make students aware of proper places to dispose of waste” would be beneficial.
“Students are living here only temporarily, but create enough of a mess to disrupt the lives of the residents of the Milton-Parc area. It’s extremely disrespectful, unsanitary, and reflects poorly on the university.”
Students and SSMU
SSMU’s Community Affairs Committee is responsible for addressing such issues as part of the VP External portfolio. Currently, SSMU VP External Connor Spencer and the Community Affairs Commissioner Julien Tremblay-Gravel are working on creating a large-scale waste management campaign. Spencer has engaged in conversations with Alex Norris, city councillor for Jeanne-Mance (the municipal district containing Milton-Parc), about getting more bins for the community, but he has yet to confirm any action.
The campaign has two parts, education and refurbishment, both designed to reduce student waste. The first part will focus on educating the students living in the Milton-Parc community about the specifics of waste collection by giving them hard-copy schedules of their building’s collection days and times in English, a service currently not offered by the city of Montreal. The second part is a larger refurbishment program.
This specific program involves collecting unwanted houseware items during the move out period in late April, and reselling them in the fall. The first part of the campaign, designed to educate students on proper waste disposal, is expected to be made public by the end of October. The refurbishment program will likely begin marketing in the winter, in time for the move-out season in spring.
Community Affairs Commissioner Julien Tremblay-Gravel explained over an email statement that “[SSMU hopes these initiatives] will reduce the large amounts of waste that are observed during that peak period of the academic year, increase waste diversion from landfill as well as provide students with a more sustainable and affordable option from which to source the household items when they arrive at McGill.”
Tremblay-Gerard elaborated on the importance of the initiatives, and their effect on the community, “I have lived in Milton-Parc for three of the five years I have been at McGill and have found it to be an extraordinarily vibrant community. I hope that these programs will decrease the negative footprint that is attributable to a minority of students in Milton-Parc and help demonstrate that students in general can be a force for good and behave as responsible citizens. ”
Brisson added, “My view is that garbage disposal, recycling, etc. is an issue that concerns all who live in Milton-Parc. […] We must work together.”