Montreal votes: Coderre considers wet shelter, Plante wants more greenspace
Published Wednesday, October 4, 2017 12:46PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:31PM EDT
Mayor Denis Coderre is considering opening a 'wet shelter' in Montreal for members of the homeless population struggling with alcohol abuse.
On the campaign trail Wednesday, Coderre said he wants to ensure the idea is well researched before giving the go-ahead, but is prepared to implement it.
Similar to safe injection sites, a wet shelter would allow people at risk to drink in a safe environment with an aim of harm reduction.
The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal is in favour of a wet shelter, among other groups.
“I want to go ahead with that, I’m going to work with them,” he said. “This is one of the issues with the Indigenous people. There are some issues we have to take a look at. This is not just based on Indigenous people. There is a reality of alcoholism all over the place.”
There are wet shelters in Ottawa and Toronto. A spokesperson for a network of Montreal homeless shelters said the project works well in those cities.
The idea was floated as Coderre visited the offices of L'Itineraire, an organization that works with the homeless population and publishes a magazine that helps raise funds to help them.
"If we can have places where people can go to get help for their alcoholism and drinking problems that's fine but we need more precision on that," said Josée Panet-Raymond of L'Itineraire.
Matthew Pierce of the Old Brewery Mission would be willing to run such an establishment, but said it has to be more than a place to drink alcohol.
"Where possible if we can get them to reduce their alcohol consumption and even stop it that would certainly be a goal," said Pierce.
In addition to the wet shelter, the incumbent candidate announced a group of initiatives to help people experiencing homelessness.
Among them is a second census of the city's homeless population, more spaces in shelters, 400 more spaces in rooming houses and services aimed more directly at different populations within the city's homeless community including youth, the LGBTQ community, cultural communities, women, elderly and Indigenous communities.
"We are at the crossroads that will help us to truly make a difference," said Coderre.
The mayor also said he is in favour of legalizing marijuana, but wants a fiscal pact of compensation from Ottawa or the province on how cities will deal with the legalization, whether it to be to run campaigns aimed at youth, or equip police to deal with legalization. Coderre said it will require additional resources for all municipalities and they'll require the funding to deal with it.
Plante talks greenspace
Meantime on the campaign trail, Projet Montreal was discussing ways to negotiate more greenspace.
Valerie Plante said if she becomes mayor she would like to negotiate with McGill to make the pool behind the old Royal Victoria Hospital and the area around the hospital accessible to Montrealers.
Plante said there's a lack of parks and park facilities downtown for Montrealers, so she would build parks for families and access the pool.
“What I'm saying to Montrealers is that I want to go and negotiate with McGill or other promoters to make sure this pool stays accessible for all Montrealers and that we create a new greenspace for Montreal families,” said Plante.
McGill University later issued a statement that it is not the owner of the Royal Victoria Hospital site, and that it is currently conducting feasibility studies about what can be done with the location.