Annual Mount Royal park cleanup resumes after pandemic hiatus

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Montrealers gave back to mother nature Sunday for the annual Mount Royal cleanup, with more than 100 volunteers spread out across the park on Mother's Day to pick up trash.

"[The] kids and I use [the park] all the time, it only seems right," volunteer Terry Simpson told CTV News.

Nonprofit organization Les amis de la montagne has been orchestrating these events for 30 years, but this is the first big cleanup since the COVID-19 pandemic put limitations on gatherings.

Parks around the city rely on groups like this to keep clean, but funding can be a challenge.

The executive director of Les Amis, Hélène Panaïoti, said her organization needs roughly $5,000,000 a year to operate.

She said only 8 per cent of that comes from Montreal; the rest has to be fundraised or made up through walking tours and other activities.

According to Panaïoti, cleaning up the park requires supervision by trained staff.

"People are accompanied by Les amis staff who are conservation patrollers. They're trained, most of them have university educations. You can't just go into the wooded area because you might do more damage than good."

Her team also takes note of what kind of trash is found.

"By looking at what people are throwing out in the park, it helps us define our messages that we want to get out to the public on how to tread carefully on greenspaces."

Terry Simpson hopes the cleanup can teach future generations about respect for nature.

"I hope that they'll have a connection to the park. I hope that they'll appreciate it and that when they see a clean park, they'll have some idea of what that means."

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