A homeless centre that has served Montreal's disenfranchised for more than a century closed its doors Monday to protest against a funding shortfall.
L'Accueil Bonneau called the one-day closure a symbolic protest to pressure Quebec for more money.
The daytime drop-in centre faces a $350,000 deficit and warns it will have to cut social services if new funding isn't found. The centre needs $500,000 to get out of the red and maintain operations, said worker Jean-Phillipe Dugré.
On Monday morning, the centre handed out sandwiches to male clients who lined up in front of the greystone building. But staff told waiting men there would be no hot meals nor any of the social services the centre normally provides.
"It's a symbolic gesture that we're making today, sending the message hopefully that will be heard and listened to by the agency in Montreal that we need funding right now for the social work that we do," Dugré said.
More than 1,000 men use services at L'Accueuil Bonneau on a daily basis, and it provides a sense of community, said longtime client Clive Booker.
"This place has done so much for so many people I've known, and for myself, I can't imagine what life would be without it."
The centre has been open every day since its inception 133 years ago. It has never turned a client away, not even when a massive explosion destroyed most of the building and killed three people 12 years ago.
Administrators say they plan to meet with public health officials in Montreal this week to discuss their situation.