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Homeless encampment metres away from Quebec school causes concern

Click to play video: 'Homeless encampment near elementary school in Longueuil causing concern'
Homeless encampment near elementary school in Longueuil causing concern
WATCH: Longueuil residents, on Montreal's south shore, are express concern and worry about a gathering of tents that has popped up near an elementary school and a park. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Jun 14, 2024

A growing homeless encampment in Montreal’s South Shore has led to mounting concern from neighbouring residents and parents.

The situation has led the Longueuil city administration to begin preparing an action plan Friday.

What started as one tent has ballooned into a campground of more than 30 in the span of just a month along the intersection of Bourassa and Despres streets.

The local church, Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue, has been a resource centre for people experiencing homelessness in the community but it has since been overburdened, in some cases forcing people into the neighbouring residential streets.

Many have chosen to stake their claim only metres away from a children’s park and elementary school, Ecole des Petits-Explorateurs.

With reports of open-air drug use, physical fights and scenes of mental health crises in the streets, the encampment has been described as a troubling scene for residents and parents on a daily basis.

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“I’ve seen many people drunk in the street,” parent Nicholas Lefebvre said while dropping his children off at school.

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“They seem to be more of a danger to themselves than to others.”

Longueuil resident Gertie Kreling says she has had no negative interactions walking by the tents on the crowded sidewalks with her children.

“While I keep my distance,” Kreling said, “I think it’s a good educational opportunity for the children to sensitize them to homelessness.”

Since receiving complaints, police have increased patrols in the area. Officers have had to intervene on occasion, leading to a handful of arrests, according to officials.

The city has recently adopted a policy promising to not dismantle encampments.

Meanwhile, Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier said in a social media post that “the situation is concerning,” adding her team is working on finding possible solutions.

The city is expected to announce an action plan to deal with the growing homeless encampment sometime next week.

Click to play video: 'Longueuil mayor’s new strategy for unhoused residents includes tolerating tent encampments'
Longueuil mayor’s new strategy for unhoused residents includes tolerating tent encampments

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