Montreal

Montreal removes Cabot Square bench that deterred passersby from sitting for too long

If the city is going to discourage people from sitting too long in certain locations, it should do more to help the homeless people who congregate there, says the executive director of Montreal's Native Women's Shelter.

Montreal mayor says bench 'contributes to the stigmatization of people experiencing homelessness'

'No resting allowed at Cabot Square,' tweeted Nakuset, an advocate for homeless people in Montreal, Thursday. A few hours later, the bench was gone. (Nakuset/Twitter)

A bench designed to prevent people from lying down, newly stencilled with a sign limiting a rest to 15 minutes, has been removed from Cabot Square in downtown Montreal, after it sparked a backlash from advocates for the homeless people who tend to congregate there.

"It's pretty outrageous because the people that use that bench are probably going to be the homeless population," said Nakuset, the executive director of Montreal's Native Women's Shelter. 

"What they're doing is telling people that this bench is not for resting, for you," she said.

She tweeted the photo out Thursday morning, with the caption "No resting allowed at Cabot."

Nakuset says if the city wants to discourage people from spending too much time in certain locations, it needs to do more to help them.

"It is unbelievably hot outside. Is there a place for them where they can cool down?" she asked. "It seems like there are more obstacles and limitations that are put out in the city, not welcoming them, than places that are welcoming them."

Tweet triggers removal of bench

Mayor Valérie Plante ordered the bench removed soon after Nakuset's tweet. 

"This is one of the old benches put in place by the previous administration, and I roundly condemned them," Plante said in her retweet of Nakuset's complaint.

"This bench has no place in the vicinity of Square Cabot because it contributes to the stigmatization of people experiencing homelessness."

When asked why the mayor did not intervene sooner, a city spokesperson said Plante had the bench removed as soon as she learned of it.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the bench, which prevented people from lying down, had just been installed. A city official has corrected earlier information provided to CBC: in fact, the bench was not new, but the sign limiting rests to 15 minutes had just been added to it.
    Jul 09, 2020 7:31 PM ET

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