Homeless worried over what planned Cabot Square skating rink will mean for them
MONTREAL -- A major hub for Montreal's homeless is also site of a planned ice-skating rink, leaving many who frequent the area worried about what will happen to them.
“The homeless won't be able to come here no more,” said a Cabot Square frequenter who asked to identified as Michelle. “A lot of them don't skate. The homeless will be getting less because of all this. It's not good.”
Nogeeshik Michael Isaac echoed Michelle's worry over the 5,000 square foot rink that is set to be installed in December.
“There's a lot of people here that have been here for many, many years, decades,” he said. “What we would appreciate is that somebody come ask us what we require, what we may need.”
Among their worries are that the ice rink will attract more people to the square, and with them, more police.
In a statement, the City of Montreal said their winter programming, including the new rink, is meant to ease the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic by helping residents enjoy the outdoors.
“We want homeless people and residents to feel included in the square and we will continue to put measures in place to encourage social co-habitation,” they said.
Opposition city councillor Benoit Langevin called the planned rink ill-advised.
“Yes, we're in a pandemic and we need to give more leisure places for the public, but why not do it elsewhere?” he said. “Why not analyze the environment and actually consult people who are here every day, living in this environment?”
Isaac said he's worried since the city did not consult the homeless who come to Cabot Square.
“They haven't sat down with us and counselled with us,” he said. “How would any king know what a peasant needs if the king isn't with the peasants?”