March 30, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Westmount | Homeless people in court to avoid eviction of their camp

About two dozen homeless people encamped under the Ville-Marie highway in Westmount are asking a court to block their eviction by the Quebec government, which has begun work near the encampment.


The campers are seeking an injunction to give them at least July 15 to vacate their site near Atwater Avenue, while the Minister des Transports du Québec (MTQ) has announced it wants to remove the camp by the end of March.

The request, filed Thursday in a Montreal court by the Traveling Legal Clinic, asserts that gathering homeless people in camps that have become mutual aid communities ensures their survival.

“For members of the community, their forced eviction from the camp without security measures and during the winter months is a major disruption. […] “The loss of a community-created support network creates a significant trauma that can have dire consequences for already highly vulnerable individuals,” the court document states.

It also noted that “although it is the responsibility of the Quebec government to ensure the relocation of members of the community, no alternative or relocation solution is offered to its members with a view to eviction.”

Details of the injunction request of some of the camp residents who have been in the camp for at least 10 years. A pregnant woman suffers from alcohol, crack and cocaine, as well as hepatitis C. She and her partner cannot be together in non-mixed accommodation. His efforts to obtain housing were unsuccessful, the document indicates.

Another “currently lives with her partner and their cats. She has already been followed up in mental health and is currently with a worker from the YMCA and a nurse from the Chez Doris organization. [Elle] Occupied an apartment in Montreal with his wife in the past, they had to move out due to cockroaches and bedbugs and cost overruns,” one reads.

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We’re talking about a one-time heroin addict, now a morphine addict, living in a camper with her cat, and someone with lung cancer, and someone with mental health issues, who is in the final stages of a blood infection. He receives radiation therapy three times a week, was kicked out of another similar camp in Chinatown last fall and saw the personal effects of his rejection.

“Drug abuse, substance abuse and mental health problems are high among them, and they fall through the cracks of the systems put in place to help them, such as homeless shelters and relocation,” the ban request explains.

“These difficulties in accessing shelter, shelters or drop-in centers are part of the housing crisis in Montreal, due to the limited number of places in shelters and the lack of subsidized or affordable apartments. »

The Mobile Legal Clinic expresses its willingness to open negotiations with the government to find solutions for relocating the camps that respect their needs and rights.

“Displacing the community from their camp puts the most vulnerable people in a more vulnerable position, destabilizing them, endangering their physical and mental health, their safety and possibly their lives,” he argues.

A team of attorneys from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt is representing the Mobile Legal Clinic in court. He asked the Supreme Court to hear the case on March 22.