Since its creation in the 1990s, Pier 4 Park has been host to countless numbers of local visitors and tourists. It is one of only two beaches in the Harbour area. Unfortunately, the past several summers there have been fewer and fewer people visiting the beach. One of the primary culprits responsible for this decrease is E. coli bacteria. E. coli is naturally occurring, found in the guts of warm-blooded animals like you and me. The problem arises when other warm-blooded animals like geese, gulls and ducks call this beach home, loafing and feeding on grass and human hand-outs along its shores. Easily accessible food attracts large numbers of birds, and excessive numbers of waterfowl results in an excessive amount of droppings. It is the droppings that host the bacteria. With lots of droppings on the sand and water, the E. coli runs rampant and pollutes the water.
Why do we care about having E. coli in our water? Well, E. coli is a major health hazard. It can cause serious digestive issues and lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea and in some cases, death. When E. coli levels exceed recreational recommendations, the City of Hamilton shuts down the beach.
The question is: how do we help solve this problem? There is a simple answer that can make a big difference – do not feed the waterfowl!! Although the birds may look hungry and appear desperate for food, they actually have plenty of food sources in the Harbour. Feeding the birds bread not only pollutes our water but can make them sick as well. So next time you see a goose or gull, take a look but please restrain from feeding them!