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Unhoused Montrealers living under Ville-Marie Expressway back in court over encampment eviction

Click to play video: 'Unhoused Montrealers living under Ville-Marie Expressway back in court over encampment eviction'
Unhoused Montrealers living under Ville-Marie Expressway back in court over encampment eviction
WATCH: Lawyers representing a group of people living underneath Montreal’s Ville-Marie Expressway were back in court Monday seeking an injunction against an eviction notice from the Quebec government. The parties returned to court after an agreement to find housing for the residents by the end of March fell through. Global's Phil Carpenter reports. – Apr 3, 2023

The 15 people who’ve been living in tents under the Ville Marie Expressway, some of them for as long as a decade, could be evicted in nine days.

Lawyers representing the group were back in court again Monday, trying to quash efforts by Transports Québec to move the residents — something the ministry has been trying to do since fall 2022 in order to carry out structural repairs on the overpass.

When housing advocates voiced their objection over the first eviction notice, the ministry delayed its plans until March 31.

Then in mid-March, Mobile Legal Clinic, a non-profit legal organization that helps unhoused people with legal aid, took the government to court seeking an injunction against the eviction, arguing that the government has a responsibility to find housing for the residents.

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At first, the two parties agreed they would come up with a plan by the end of the month to find permanent residence and support for the residents, but that agreement fell through.

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That’s why they were back in court Monday.

“We’re trying to obtain an order from the Quebec Superior Court by which the (Quebec Transport Ministry) would be precluded from dismantling the encampment, and such an order would be for a limited duration” explained Éric Préfontaine, the group’s lawyer.

They argue that since the campers can’t go to emergency shelters because they don’t meet the criteria, if they are kicked out, they’re without a place to go.  Many will disperse and end up camping elsewhere, likely isolated and in greater danger if they have a medical emergency, like an overdose.

The transport ministry wants them gone between April 12 and 15th, saying any more delays to getting repair work done on the overpass will be too costly.

Both parties will be back in court Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Group of Montrealers living in encampment under Ville-Marie Expressway wins first legal step'
Group of Montrealers living in encampment under Ville-Marie Expressway wins first legal step

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