Temporary homeless shelter in Montreal’s Cabot Square granted extension

Click to play video: 'Warming tent at Cabot Square granted extension' Warming tent at Cabot Square granted extension
WATCH: A temporary warming tent set up at Cabot Square will remain open until at least May 17. As Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports, it’s welcome news for those working with Montrealers experiencing homelessness. – Apr 30, 2021

The temporary heated shelter for the homeless community in Cabot Square will remain open until May 17.

Officials at Resilience Montreal made the announcement Friday morning.

The white tent situated in the middle of the park was originally scheduled to be taken down by the end of April but the city granted a two-week extension.

David Chapman, Resilience Montreal executive director, is relieved the shelter will remain in place for an extended period of time.

“It’s certainly good news for the homeless community,” Chapman said.

“The tent brings not only food and a place to rest but it also brings warmth and a place of safety among the homeless community.”

Read more: Heating stations for Montreal homeless population to close

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Since its conception, the tent has recorded some 4,599 visits, according to Chapman, the majority being part of the city’s Indigenous homeless population.

“What we’re able to see is there is a demand for safer options in the evening for the homeless on the west side of Montréal.”

The tent was put in place as a way to accommodate homeless individuals during the winter months as the pandemic forced city shelters to operate at reduced capacity to avoid crowding.

It’s named in honour of Raphael Napa André, an Innu man whose body was found inside a portable toilet overnight in January.

Read more: Preparations underway for Cabot Square heating tent to house Montreal homeless

“Tents are what we see in hurricanes. This is a band-aid solution,” Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts said.

Watts says it is encouraging to hear the shelter is used but stresses this is not a permanent solution for those experiencing homelessness.

Social housing projects currently being announced and built in the city of Montreal by the Plante administration, with help of federal funding, will only be ready within the next two to four years, Watts said.

He wants to see more favourable incentives like rent subsidies.

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Read more: A permanent housing project in Montreal tries to help a city hit hard by COVID, apartment crunch

Despite the need, Resilience Montreal says it is not certain if the tent will remain up past the current May 17 deadline.

Chapman says the shelter has been a source of complaints from local residents who say it has taken over “their park.”

“I hope they understand, certainly in a pandemic, that homeless people don’t have the luxury of a home,” Chapman said.

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