Shops vandalized over gentrification
Published Sunday, December 1, 2013 6:09PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 2, 2013 8:46AM EST
MONTREAL -- Community leaders in Hochelaga Moaisonneuve came together Sunday to speak out against a rash of violence that has divided the neighbourhood.
Four businesses in the area were targeted this week by vandals who threw bricks through their windows, along with a written message condemning local gentrification.
The borough of Hochelaga Maisionneuve may be one of the poorest in the city, but there are now signs its fortunes are changing.
Once a haven for cheap rent, new condo developments and stores have increased traffic to the neighbourhood, and it’s a change some don’t welcome.
Vandals shattered the glass windows of Le Chasseur, Baguette et Bagatelle, Le Valois and In Vivo early Wednesday morning. The notes attached to the bricks condemned the businesses as colonizers, telling them they are not safe in the neighbourhood.
Community leaders say they're not backing down and are committed to bringing new life to Hochelaga Maisonneuve, an unmistakable change with new condos and storefronts popping up along Ontario St.
At an emergency press conference Sunday, a coalition of politicians, business and community leaders joined forces to condemn the attacks.
It's a symptom of an ongoing problem that has plagued the neighbourhood, said Hochalaga-Maisonneuve MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, who is also the NDP's housing critic.
“There's got to be a balance between regeneration and gentrification and obviously we need some work on that,” she said.
Borough Mayor Real Menard said on one hand they need the revitalization condos projects and businesses bring, but they also need to ensure rents don't skyrocket.
“I've lived in this borough two decades and we believe some of the issues are real. Some people do not have enough money to pay their rent we have to find solution about that,” he said.
There were many critics at the conference, including housing advocate Jonathan Aspireault-Massé who said social housing has been all but ignored in the discussion.
“It's ironic because they say violence is not the way, but maybe it is. I don't know,” he said.
But for Annie Martel, who cofounded the cooperative Bistro In Vivo, the violence has shaken her.
Despite it, she's not planning on going away, she said.
“The neighbourhood is changing and I don't think we can change that, but we can maybe do it in a better way,” she said.