Red Bull LogoAfter Red Bull promoted the Gatineau River as a great destination for floating, hundreds of floaters visited the area every weekend, resulting in instances of littering, stranded floaters needing to be rescued, drinking alcohol, illegal parking and an increase in trespassing on private properties. Friends of the Gatineau successfully appealed to Red Bull to remove the promotion of Gatineau River float from their website.

Here is our letter to Red Bull:

Friends of the Gatineau River (FOG) is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization working as the “eyes and ears” of the Gatineau River. Our mission is to inspire the community to work together to protect and improve the Gatineau River for future generations by monitoring, advocating, educating and celebrating. We recently came across a post on the Red Bull website promoting a river float on the Gatineau river and are deeply concerned about safety and the environmental impacts.

Over the summer, we have witnessed a huge influx of floaters, due to the promotion on your popular website. With these hundreds of floaters every weekend, there are now weekly instances of littering, stranded floaters needing to be rescued, drinking alcohol (possibly followed by drinking and driving), illegal parking and an increase in trespassing on private properties. The garbage left behind along our shores includes a lot of empty alcohol cans, bottles, plastic food wrappers and non recyclable plastic in the form of large floaty toys.

Alcove and Wakefield are small rural towns that do not have the facilities and infrastructure to support such traffic. We have no public launch into the river, minimal washroom facilities, few garbage cans and limited public parking. Your website provides directions that leads floaters to private properties for parking and access to the river. There is no mention of mandatory safety equipment, respect towards the environment nor risks of not accomplishing the float if there is a wind from the south.

We therefore strongly recommend that you remove the promotion of Gatineau River float from your website. We are already working in collaboration with the police to further increase monitoring and enforcement of the laws; we have contacted the press and have discussed the issue on CBC radio. We did not want to not mention the Red Bull site to avoid promoting the float, but reporters did a quick search and found it anyway. Here is one.

We strongly recommend that you REMOVE the promotion of this Gatineau River float from your website in favour of other locations that have the facilities to accommodate such large floats. For the other locations, we also recommend that you include some messaging that promotes respect towards the environment (i.e have a plan in advance for your garbage), and respect the laws, such as boating safety, parking and trespassing.

We encourage the celebration and responsible use of the river. Flotillas can be safe and fun. In fact, we are hosting a flotilla at the Gatineau Riverfest on September 7th, 2019. For more information, see www.fog-arg.org/events. However, safety kits and a paddle are mandatory. Also a security boat, on call first aid, parking, as well as a shuttle are provided.

It’s the only planet we have, it’s time we all did our part to take care of it. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.

Rita Jain,
President, Friends of the Gatineau River
ontheriver@fog-arg.org