Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante issued a statement Monday following a recent uptick in violent crime across the city.
Plante said that while the situation is cause for concern, every effort is being made to ensure the safety of the population.
“The events of recent days involving firearms are worrying, but I want to reassure Montrealers we are taking the situation very seriously and are implementing a whole series of actions to stem the problem of violent crime,” Plante said.
Over the weekend, Montreal’s Old Port was the scene of a shootout between police and a 33-year-old man in which five people were injured, including the suspect and a police officer.
“We cannot accept that acts likely to seriously injure or even kill citizens occur on the territory of Montreal,” Plante said.
Merchants in Old Montreal told Global News they’re nervous.
“People are afraid,” said Mario, a restaurant owner who preferred not to give his last name.
“We’ve seen a lot of things that we’re not used to seeing here in Old Montreal.”
Mario said his business was broken into once and robbed twice just over the course of the summer, compared to only one incident over an eight-year span.
The city plans to increase police visibility in targeted neighbourhoods, including the Old Port.
At key times, like when bars close, police patrols will be maintained around targeted locations, Plante said.
François Doré, a retired Sûreté du Québec officer, said gun culture is a phenomenon that seems to be making its way east from Ontario to Montreal.
“It appears that guns are more and more present in criminal life in Montreal,” he said.
“It appears that street gangs, criminal groups, criminal motorcycle groups are more prone to violence and taking all the means they can which is of course using a gun, or many guns.”
He said he’s not sure what’s driving the move, but said increasing officers on patrol could be part of the solution, especially officers from the SPVM’s street gang or violent crimes units.
The City of Montreal also said that prevention is an important component of its action plan and that it’s working with other cities across the province to identify best practices.
— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter