Good habits to adopt in large parks

Last updated July 26, 2022
Reading time: 6 min

Do you enjoy Montréal’s large parks? Did you know that certain behaviours can damage these natural habitats teeming with life? Learn more about simple actions you can take and rules to follow in our parks.

Each year, many of you visit Montréal’s large parks and nature parks. These vast playgrounds are great places to chill and enjoy your favourite outdoor activities.

This privilege comes with certain responsibilities, namely preserving the fragile balance of the ecosystems found there, so that our children and grandchildren can continue to benefit from them.

The most important rules

Pick up your trash and leave without a trace

Did you know that the garbage you leave behind can harm nature for decades, even hundreds of years? 

If you are consuming food or beverages, try to use reusable containers, and leave with everything you brought so you can sort it all out when you get home. This way, you can recycle or compost the packaging properly. You can also use the bins and garbage cans on site. However, if these containers are already full, the waste can blow away and pollute the environment.

By taking care to leave no trace of your visit to the park, your next excursion will be more pleasant and nature will be much better off.

Avoid making too much noise

Out of respect for other people and the wildlife that call the park home, it is forbidden to disturb the peace and quiet of the area with loudspeakers, portable radios, cell phones or musical instruments. Bring headphones or be discreet. 
Generators and voice amplifiers are not permitted unless you have a permit.

Do not make fires

It is strictly forbidden to light a fire in the open air, to light fireworks and to use pyrotechnics for any reason whatsoever. It’s very dangerous, because it only takes a small spark to set the whole park on fire.

Use barbecues in the appropriate areas

  • Planning to bring your barbecue to a park? The barbecuerules vary by park and by fuel type.
  • Propane gas barbecues and butane stoves are permitted only in designated picnic areas. 
  • Be sure to take your empty tanks with you.
  • Parks that allow charcoal barbecues have ash bins in some areas where you can safely dump the hot coals.

Do not hang anything from the trees

Equipment may not be placed in trees or shrubs, to prevent damaging them. This also applies to street furniture. Leave your hammock at home and lock your bike to the bike rack.

Share the bike lanes properly

If your means of travel does not require any physical effort, it is not permitted on park bike paths.

  • Bikes, electric-assist bikes, skateboards, scooters, three- and four-wheeled vehicles are permitted to help persons with reduced mobility get around.
  • Electric- and gas-powered motor scooters, effortless electric bikes, two-wheel personal transporters (such as Segway’s), electric (stand-up) scooters, ATVs and snowmobiles are prohibited.
  • No person shall travel at a speed exceeding 20 km/h or in a manner that endangers the safety of pedestrians and other drivers.

At the beach

It is prohibited to:

  • Use a radio or sound system
  • Use glass containers
  • Consume alcoholic beverages or food
  • Swim outside the buoys surrounding the swimming area
  • Swim in the absence of a lifeguard
  • Swim without a bathing suit.
  • Bicycles, scooters and skateboards are not permitted on the beach.

Do not use drones or motorized models

To protect the privacy and tranquility of users, it is prohibited to operate a drone for recreational purposesor a motorized model such as a remote-controlled car.

Alcohol and cannabis use

The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the parks. It is only permitted in picnic areas during a meal or when a permit has been issued for a special event.

Federal and provincial cannabis laws are in effect in the parks. The use of cannabis in any form is prohibited.

Being in a park at night is prohibited

While it may be tempting to chill with your friends at night when the park is closed, it’s not allowed. Parks are poorly lit and there is a risk of accidents. Also, excessive enthusiasm interferes with the peace and quiet of the place and sometimes even with the surrounding neighbourhood.

Nature parks are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Large parks are open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Other things to know

It is prohibited to: 

  • Kill, injure or capture a wild animal
  • Abandon or release a domestic animal
  • Post or solicit or conduct any promotional or commercial activity
  • Damage, cut or remove any rock, tree, shrub or other vegetation, dead or alive, or write on, paint or engrave them
  • Introduce any plant species, whether exotic or native
  • Deposit construction waste, materials, merchandise or other goods, furniture, non-functional appliances or any polluting or dangerous material
  • Use or be in possession of a firearm, air gun or any trapping or snaring device
  • Camp or sleep there at night, except in authorized locations.

Protecting unspoilt environments

Stay on the trails

Whether you’re biking or walking, stay on the trails so that you don’t step on plants and break the branches of bushes. When you step on plants, they are destroyed and the soil is compacted. 

Obey signage at all times. Trails are designated for hiking and snowshoeing. Others are specifically for cross-country skiing.

Don’t pick flowers or plants

Flowers and plants are not just pretty: they provide food and shelter for birds and certain pollinating insects, such as butterflies and bees.

By pulling out a flower, you prevent it from reproducing and threaten its survival. For example, the white trillium and the endangered mayapple can take several years to bloom. It takes eight or nine years for wild garlic to reach full maturity.Imagine if hikers uprooted them! 

Why not just take pictures and share them with your friends through your Instagram account?

Leave the dead wood where it lies

It can be tempting to pick up a long branch to use as a walking stick or build a shelter with. In addition to providing a wildlife habitat, branches, wood and leaves play an essential role in forest renewal. As they decompose, they turn into humus and enrich the soil. That’s why our teams don’t pick them up.

Do not throw away your yard waste in parks

With the warm weather comes the pleasure of gardening. Garden maintenance generates green waste, which we want to get rid of. In order to preserve the ecosystems of Montréal’s parks, green waste from gardens, vegetable gardens or landscaping must not be deposited in a park under any circumstances.

Even if compostable, this yard waste (branches, leaves, soil, plants, etc.) can harm the balance of the ecosystem when it ends up in an unspoilt environment. For example, it can spread diseases that may affect plants in the receiving environment and spread undesirable, non-native, or even invasive plant species by scattering their seeds.

Protect the wildlife

Don’t feed them 

Bread and grain products don’t contain the nutrients and calories necessary for the health of ducks, geese and other bird species. These foods can make them sick and disrupt certain activities, such as their fall migration.

Our food is not suitable for the squirrels, raccoons and other wildlife we encounter in the parks. They find everything they need in nature. In addition, the search for food helps maintain their survival instinct and wild nature.

Keep your distance

Observe animals from a distance so as not to disturb them. Petting and feeding them can change their natural behaviour and put them at risk. 

Some animals can carry infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as rabies.

Your up-close presence can also be a huge stress to wildlife. Consider bringing binoculars, or a camera with a telephoto lens, to observe them from a distance.

What to do when birds of prey are present

Birds of prey are protected under the Act respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife, which prohibits any disturbance. There are certain precautions to take (for your safety and theirs) if you want to observe them:

  • Stay on the trails
  • Keep your voice low and your conversations to a minimum
  • Do not approach nests, or disturb chicks or their parents
  • Do not play sound recordings or imitate birds’ voices to attract them
  • Carefully assess whether the bird can tolerate the disturbance caused by your presence, especially during the breeding season. If it appears nervous or agitated, leave the area
  • If you take pictures, do not use a flash
  • Use discretion before posting the presence of a bird on social media

Keep your dog on a leash

It’s always nice to go for a walk with Fido. Dogs are welcome in all large parks, as long as they are on a leash and you keep to the trails, grassy areas and parking lots.

All dogs weighing 20 kg or more must wear a halter or harness with an attached leash, with the exception of a guide or service dog.

You need to keep your dog under control, because if it gets away from you, it can injure small wildlife or be hurt by certain predators such as coyotes or foxes. Your dog is also at risk of catching diseases from wild animals.

Don’t forget to pick up after your pet.

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