Hochelaga-Maisonneuve tent city threatened with eviction

Inhabitants of a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve tent city are facing eviction on Monday, as Quebec's Transport Ministry claims the site they are on is not safe.

The small encampment of around 20 people moved to the site after they were kicked out of their previous site. The wooded property is co-owned by the Transport Ministry.

“We're not garbage, we're still human beings,” said resident Guylain Levasseur.

The residents received unsigned letters from the ministry asking them to leave. The letters said that if they did not, they will be removed.

Homeless advocate Michel Monette of CARE Montreal said forced evictions won't solve anything.

“Taking people out of the camp won't fix the security. It will just bring the problem elsewhere,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic's economic effects have seen issues surrounding Montreal's homeless community come to the fore. Last week, the city decreed the Raphael Andre Memorial warming tent in Cabot Square be taken down in two weeks, but no alternate site was named.

Monette urged the city to let advocates and organizations do their work.

“Let us do our day-to-day job to manage crises and emergencies and stuff like that,” he said.

City councillor Benoit Langevin was an outreach worker before turning to politics. Langevin, who belongs to city's hall opposition party Ensemble Montreal, said he's visited the tent city site half a dozen times over the last month.

“We went through this scenario last year. Why is history repeating itself?” he said. “How come there hasn't been a plan implemented for this again?”

Langevin said he would like to see the community moved into a converted hotel, similar to the facility in place at Place Dupuis.

Levasseur said the community in the tent city is safe, respectful and communal and will resist being moved.  

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