Montreal’s Chinatown seniors calling on authorities to take their safety concerns into account

Click to play video: 'Montreal’s Chinatown seniors calling on authorities to listen to their concerns after decision to close shelter'
Montreal’s Chinatown seniors calling on authorities to listen to their concerns after decision to close shelter
WATCH: Montreal's Chinatown seniors calling on authorities to listen to their concerns after decision to close shelter – Aug 17, 2023

For some people who live and work in Chinatown a death on a street in the area on Thursday afternoon is just the latest example of the homelessness and security crisis.

Police aren’t giving any details but earlier this month community leaders pointed to two other deaths at a rooming house on Clarke Street which were drug-related.  The most recent  incident came just hours after the residents held a press conference equating the security issues in the neighbourhood to a ticking bomb.

“Well, today I think the ticking time bomb is about to explode,” stated Bryant Chang, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Montreal, at the conference.

Tenants in an apartment building at the federally-owned Guy Favreau complex on de la Gauchetiere Street, many of whom are elderly, insist their needs must be considered in any future plan for the homeless in that neighbourhood.

Story continues below advertisement

According to them, they were not consulted before a shelter for the unhoused was opened on the ground floor of their building during the pandemic.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

It’s set to be closed at the end of October, but tenants claim that since the refuge opened the population of homeless people in the area has increased.

Earlier this week, others who work in the area argued  that since there were already multiple shelters for the unhoused close to the neighbourhood, having another in Chinatown has led to a further concentration of the homeless in the area.

Guy Favreau residents say as a result there are problems with noise, filth and drug use around the building.  Some allege the homeless even break into the apartment grounds, past locked gates.

“In the nighttime there’s sex for money going on, on the premises,” resident Bill Wong pointed out. “It’s going on like this, non-stop.”

He added that some seniors now even prefer to remain inside their apartments.

“They’re afraid to walk at nighttime and some of them have been attacked also,” he told Global News.

He and the others also point to drugs and crime in other parts of Chinatown, and want police to act more quickly to crack down.

Story continues below advertisement

While the apartment dwellers stress that don’t want to further stigmatize the homeless, they argue seniors want to be included in any plan, because they are a vulnerable population.

They want a ban on any other homeless shelters in Chinatown and for the city to create a strategy to deal with the problems.

“Basically, to set up, among other things, a working committee, a task force, between the police, the city, residents and merchants in order to develop what we call a community, safety and crime prevention plan,” explained Fo Niemi, head of the civil rights group, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.

The city has had meetings with the community and says it plans to continue working with the neighbourhood.


Sponsored content