Lawyers for Ville-Marie expressway campers to appeal court decision to force them out

Click to play video: 'More time needed to find housing for Montrealers living under highway, lawyers say'
More time needed to find housing for Montrealers living under highway, lawyers say
WATCH: Montrealers living under the Ville-Marie Expressway are slowly finding housing, but people advocating for them say they need a few more weeks to find accommodations for everyone. It's why lawyers for the group plan to appeal a court decision that would force them to leave in a week. Global's Phil Carpenter reports – Jun 8, 2023

Jacko Stuben, a camper underneath the Ville-Marie expressway, says he just needs a little more time.

“That’s it,” he told Global News standing underneath the expressway. “In the next few weeks, if they give us the time, people will be out of this place.”

Lawyers representing the campers underneath the structure plan to appeal a Quebec Superior Court decision Tuesday to not renew an injunction to stop the eviction of the campers.

The unhoused residents wanted the eviction delayed until July 15, but the judge is now compelling them to leave a month earlier.

“You’re not helping us,” Stuben complained. “You’re just on top of us rushing us to leave.”

Transports Québec wants the campers gone before continuing $35 million worth of repairs on the overpass, work which spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun said should take up to three years.

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“The work has started on certain portions of Route 136,” she explained. “However we were not able to do the work fully since we had campers onsite.”

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Those living there were originally supposed to be evicted last fall but have been fighting Transports Québec ever since, with the courts delaying the move twice this spring.

Click to play video: 'Unhoused Montrealers facing eviction from expressway encampment granted reprieve'
Unhoused Montrealers facing eviction from expressway encampment granted reprieve

Advocates blame the provincial government for not doing enough to help the campers find housing.

Still, David Chapman who runs Resilience Montreal, the community group that’s been helping the residents, points out that they are making progress in finding permanent accommodation for the unhoused people.

“We finished the documentation for six people yesterday,” he noted.

He said of the 15-20 people living under the structure, 75 per cent are being processed for housing, heightening their disappointment the judge refused to grant them an extra few weeks needed to finalize arrangements.

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“We could make better headway by July 15, for sure,” he stated before heading off to help one of the campers move into an apartment.

Chapman said that since the campers don’t meet the criteria for emergency shelters, either because they have pets or have a partner, finding a place until they can move into their new apartments will be difficult.

The appeal will be heard in court next week.

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