Montreal is setting up a new centre geared toward preventing "violent radicalization."

Mayor Denis Coderre said Monday the city is aiming to strike balance "between openness and vigilance" while providing assistance to families, friends, community organizations and police.

"Violent radicalization is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon," Coderre said in a statement.

"The city and its partners will deploy all resources required by the Prevention Centre to get it up and running as soon as possible. It must have means to put a stop to the radicalization process and to minimize the number of radicalized individuals who go on to commit violent acts."

The centre, the first of its kind in Montreal, will involve partners from various sectors, including health and social services, public safety and education. 

Montreal police chief Marc Parent and Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil were among those on-hand for the announcement.

Parent said the centre will serve police as a "reference and expertise hub that will become operational within a few weeks."

"Its resources will be available to anyone who has questions or concerns about violent radicalization," he said.

A special prevention hotline will be active immediately at 514-687-7141.

Plan comes under criticism

Human rights lawyer Julius Grey was skeptical of the new centre and the hotline in particular.

"I think in general snitch lines are particularly dangerous," he told CBC.

"It means individuals with their different sensitivities and opinions can snitch and then the city starts to investigate. I think before we start investigating people, we have to have solid reasons to believe they might be doing something."

Grey also questioned whether "radicalization" relates only to Muslim radicals, or if other groups would fall under the same banner.

A committee has been established to set up the centre. Its role will be to "make the centre operational as soon as possible, create its governance structure and define procedures," according to a news release issued by the city.