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Montreal’s St-Henri residents still opposed to supervised drug site near elementary school

Click to play video: 'Montreal’s St-Henri residents still opposed to supervised injection site and shelter'
Montreal’s St-Henri residents still opposed to supervised injection site and shelter
WATCH: Residents of Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood are keeping the pressure on elected officials to not allow a supervised injection site to open next to an elementary school. As Phil Carpenter reports, elected officials point out, however, that there is a homelessness crisis and the shelter and the supervised drug use site helps address that. – Oct 15, 2023

People who live and work in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood are keeping the pressure on elected officials not to allow a supervised injection site to open, just metres away from Victor-Rousselot elementary school.

“There’s never a good place to put those centres,” Jacqueline Lam, who has kids at the school, noted as she protested outside the site with other parents Sunday. “We want to help everyone – there’s vulnerable populations that need help. But next to a school is the worst place possible that they could have picked.”

The new four-storey complex on Atwater Avenue will have more than 30 apartments for people experiencing homelessness, who have mental health challenges and are struggling with addiction. Supervised drug use will happen on the ground floor.

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Parents, however, are worried about the clients of the complex coming into contact with students and about kids finding syringes, despite the fact that the city plans to build a higher fence around the school yard.

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“You’re talking about people who could be aggressive, people that could be dangerous, paranoid,” Lam argued. They don’t know what they are doing necessarily.”

Residents, like Natasha Launi, worry that having such a centre will adversely impact the area.

“It’s a beautiful place to live,” she stressed. “I think that putting the centre here will totally change the dynamic of the neighbourhood, and so I’m here to make sure it goes somewhere else.”

Elected officials point out, however, that there is a homelessness crisis and that the joint federal, provincial and municipal project is one way to address it.

“There’s a (homeless) population that exists in this neighbourhood, and it’s growing,” city councillor Craig Sauvé told Global News in an interview in September. “What we want to do is take that consumption from outside, bring it inside under supervision.  So that means less syringes, that means less people having crises in the street.”

Chatale Gagnon, one of the parents and the protest co-organizer, is bothered by something else.

“There was no consultation with the residents and no consultation with the parents,” she claimed.

Those opposed to the project have hired a lawyer to help them in their fight.

 

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