Newly installed ‘lean on’ supports raise eyebrows in Sud-Ouest borough

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New leaning structures that prevent the public from sitting down are drawing criticism in Montreal's Sud-Ouest borough. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Nov 17, 2020

Throughout Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough, about a dozen new “lean on” supports have been installed on city sidewalks.

The structures are not public benches but metal stands that people can use to rest on.

Read more: Sud-Ouest borough backs down from controversial changes to Notre-Dame Street

Unlike common benches, you cannot sit. You can only lean while remaining standing.

This has some residents claiming they are a form of hostile architecture.

Meant only for temporary rest, residents like Anna Janouskova say that limits their use for certain groups, like homeless and elderly people.

“I don think they are really useful,” Janouskova said. “People can’t tie their shoes or sit for a long period of time.”

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On social media, many borough residents have voiced their opposition to the new stands.

Read more: Montreal turns stretch of Crescent into pedestrian-only street amid coronavirus pandemic

The frustration is misplaced as people do not fully understand the utility of the supports, borough councillor Alain Vaillancourt said.

“It doesn’t replace benches, it’s an addition to everything else we’re doing to help those with mobility issues,” Vaillancourt said.

Several of these supports have been installed in high-traffic areas and precise locations throughout the borough.

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Vaillancourt says they were placed in targeted areas to help with the area’s senior population.

One can be found outside a pharmacy on the corner of Monk and Jacques-Heurtel streets near two seniors’ residences.

Another has been placed near an accessible parking space along Notre-dame street.

Vaillancourt said the stands are meant to give those who cannot completely sit down a rest.

Read more: City to keep mysterious bench plaques in Calgary park after citizens oppose their removal

The city approved the installations after a public consultation with more than 100 seniors, Vaillancourt said.

“These were just some of the ideas that people, seniors wanted to see on their streets,” he said.

Borough officials were unaware of the cost of the supports but said they were incorporated in the pre-approved cost of street repairs.

A total of 13 are expected to put in place throughout the Southwest.

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