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Video of man dumping water on unhoused person in Montreal stirs up anger, debate

Click to play video: 'Mixed reactions after video shows store owner throwing water on sleeping unhoused man'
Mixed reactions after video shows store owner throwing water on sleeping unhoused man
WATCH: A video of a man throwing water on a man sleeping outside his business has sparked concern. The incident took place over the weekend in Montreal's Chinatown and is shedding light on state of Chinatown and on the lack of services for the unhoused population in the community. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports.

In a video circulating on social media, a woman can be seen handing over a metal container of water to a man who then dumps it on a sleeping and seemingly unhoused man.

It happened in broad daylight at a storefront on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, outside a restaurant and a gaming centre in Montreal’s Chinatown.

One of the businesses, La Toxica Montreal, posted an apology on Instagram on Monday, saying shopkeepers tried to wake up the man several times without success, and they say that’s when the owner of MTL Gaming Centre resorted to a more abrupt act.

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Community advocates say situations like this happen as a result of mounting frustration between business owners and the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Chinatown has been calling on different levels of government to address the homelessness crisis and crime that has hit the area for years.

“I think that it’s time that (the) government do something about all this,” said Bill Wong, the director general of the Montreal Chinatown Development Council. “I just think things will get worse before they get better.”

For those who work with the unhoused population in the city, the incident is a signal that there is a dire lack of resources.

“If there is a 24-hour homeless resource in every neighbourhood that’s truly accessible, so that homeless can get their basic needs met, then you have less of a concentration in certain areas, which leads to frustration with business owners,” said David Chapman, executive director of Resilience Montreal.

Homeless advocates say the best way for people to deal with situations of conflict, distress or social cohabitation involving unhoused people is to ask for help.

Montreal’s social intervention squad, called EMMIS, is available to citizens and business owners in boroughs like Ville Marie, Plateau-Mount-Royal and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve 24-7.

You can reach them by email at emmis@montreal.ca or business owners can also call 438-372-4387.

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In a statement to Global News, Montreal police (SPVM) said that local Station 21 is aware of the incident and is taking steps to learn more about it.

“The SPVM understand that business owners in Chinatown can feel powerless, but we have to reiterate that this type of behaviour can have serious consequences.”

Instead, police suggest people call 911 if they find themselves in a similar situation.

The department also said it has been taking part in various roundtable discussions on the issue, as well as maintaining a presence on the ground  and collaborating with local partners and community organization.

Global News reached out to both businesses involved in the incident but did not receive a response.

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