Block Parent program launches in the West Island

WATCH ABOVE: Parents in Pointe-Claire met to go over the final stages in reviving the Block Parent program. Global’s Billy Shields has more.

POINTE-CLAIRE – When Genevieve Simard was a kid in the West Island, she remembered seeing Block Parent signs in almost every window.

“It was a big thing and I felt safer,” she told Global News.

“But it kind of went away.”

After about nine months of pounding the pavement and canvassing the West Island, a group is bringing the Block Parent program back.

Genevieve Simard is one of the parents who fondly remember the Block Parent program and are working to bring it back. Billy Shields/Global News

According to Tara Stainforth, president of the new organization in Pointe-Claire, about 30 households  have already signed up – with more on the way.

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READ MORE: Block Parent Program makes a comeback in the West Island

“Today is sort of our big wave of ‘let’s get as many people [signed up] as we can,” she said at the Block Parent launch party in Cedar Park Heights.

“We’ll be calling them over the next week to set up appointments and fill out the paperwork.”

That paperwork is no small hurdle – it’s the main reason the 30 initial households took nine months of organizing to get to the launch phase.

To become a Block Parent household, every person in the home above the age of 12 must go through a criminal background check.

“You fill out forms, then wait. Fill out background checks, then wait,” Stainforth said.

Criminal checks filed in December came back in late March.

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Like Stainforth, Simard is hoping that a reborn Block Parent program will ensure the children in her community remain healthy and safe.

“I have a child and I want him to be outside,” she said while holding her 2-year-old son Leo.

“As a community I want us protecting our children.”  

It used to be that a block parent sign in a window meant that a child walking alone could seek refuge there if he or she felt worried.

But as time went on, the program gradually faded.

Part of it has to do with parents losing interest when their children grew up.

Economic changes also played a role.

“Before the mother stayed at home,” said Francine Chartrand, the president of the Block Parent program in the Montreal region.

“Now the mother works.”

READ MORE: West Island mothers meet with Block Parent Montreal

But as telecommuting has become more common, more parents are working from home.

“You have more stay-at-home entrepreneur’s now,” said Francis Scarpaleggia, MP for Lac-St-Louis.

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“So maybe the cycle is coming back.” 

Judging from Sunday’s turnout, it would seem so.

Stainforth said she expects to more than double the number of families to sign up for the program.

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