Montreal dismantles homeless encampment just east of Jacques-Cartier Bridge
City has taken a firm stance against allowing encampments, especially on government-owned land
The city of Montreal has dismantled a homeless encampment on a vacant lot at the intersection of Notre-Dame and D'Iberville streets, just east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, on Tuesday morning.
Police, firefighters and city employees took down improvised shelters on the lot, which is owned by the Quebec Transport Ministry.
A spokesperson for the city told Radio-Canada that the encampments "are not a safe or durable solution for people experiencing homelessness."
"They can't be tolerated because the risks are known, notably when it comes to fire hazards," said Mélanie Gagné, a communications officer.
The presence of campfires on the site and a fire that broke out in two tents on July 1 prompted the Transport Ministry to publish an eviction notice.
People were warned that they had to leave on July 8, said Gagné.
Between July 8 and 13, outreach workers and police officers followed up with the 10 people living there to refer them to relocation services.
"Right now, we can see the value of the homeless," said a man who has lived in a similar encampment, Guylain Levasseur, as he watched the workers dismantle the tents and lean-tos. "We take out the bulldozer, we put everything in a truck and we take it to the dump."
Levasseur was living at an encampment in Montreal's east end when it was taken down in May.
While the city has taken a firm stance against allowing encampments, Levasseur says that there are few other options for people who don't want to go to a shelter.
"It doesn't solve the problem. If they dismantle here, where will these guys sleep? In shop doorways?"
With files from Radio-Canada