Unhoused Montrealers living under Ville-Marie Expressway get 10-day reprieve

Click to play video: 'Unhoused Montrealers facing eviction from expressway encampment granted reprieve'
Unhoused Montrealers facing eviction from expressway encampment granted reprieve
WATCH: In a decision handed down Tuesday afternoon, Superior Court Justice Chantal Masse has pushed back a move to dismantle a homeless encampment under the Ville-Marie Expressway by another 10 days. The judgment also orders the Transport Ministry to stop any preparatory work around the area. Global’s Phil Carpenter reports. – Apr 11, 2023

A group of around 15  unhoused Montrealers living under the Ville-Marie Expressway and fighting an eviction notice by Quebec’s transport ministry was granted a small reprieve on Tuesday.

Superior Court Justice Chantal Masse ruled the group could stay in the encampment another 10 days before being forced out.

The ministry is seeking to clear out the encampment in order to carry out repair work on the overpass.

The government had been hoping the site would by empty by Wednesday.

In the judgment handed down Tuesday afternoon, however, Masse  ordered the transport ministry to stop preparatory work around the area and to stay away from the encampment.

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“She concluded, in a nutshell, these people would suffer irreparable harm if they were forced to be evicted at this point in time and that they need more time,” said lawyer Éric Préfontaine of Osler law firm.

Préfontaine has been working with the Mobile Legal Clinic which provides legal aid to people experiencing homelessness.

From the time the Mobile Legal Clinic first filed an injunction attempting to block Transports Québec from removing the camp on March 16th, Masse has tried to push the government into finding the group adequate housing — but to no avail.

The campers whose situation makes them ineligible for the city’s homeless shelters say they’re in a difficult situation.

“Ten days, it goes fast,” said Enzo Osorio, who is unsure of what will come next.

“Because you have no place for the couple (in Montreal shelters) and my wife waits for a baby in three months.”

According to lawyers representing the campers, the 10-day injunction could be extended but they hope that the two sides can come to an agreement for housing so they don’t have to return to court.

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In her decision, Masse encouraged all parties involved to find solutions so that all the campers can be moved to a new location together.

David Chapman, executive director and co-founder of the community group Resilience Montreal, remained cautiously optimistic.

“I look forward to seeing a negotiation take place where real solutions can be found for people living under the bridge,” he said.

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