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Kids exposed to crime and drug use at downtown Montreal daycare near homeless shelter, say parents

Parents at a daycare in downtown Montreal say they're worried about their children's safety because of rampant crime and drug use in the area.

At CPE Le Petit Palais, interactions with the local homeless population are a daily occurrence.

"They come around, they smoke near the yard, they're always on the fence," says daycare educator Alexandra Gareepy.

"There is a lot of windows, and they pee on it, they wash themselves … it's chaos," she said.

During the pandemic, the city opened an emergency overnight shelter in Complexe Guy-Favreau, a few hundred metres from the daycare.

The shelter will be relocated at the end of October, but the city hasn't yet said where it will go.

When CTV News visited the daycare, there were human feces in one of the window wells. Parents say that's not all their kids are seeing through the windows.

"Drug dealers basically selling drugs in the windows in front of these kids," said parent Phil Chu.

"We've seen people who take drugs basically smoking crack in the windows. I mean, these are things that kids should not be seeing at all," he said.

The city's head of public security, Alain Vaillancourt, says he met with the daycare community on Wednesday to find solutions.

"It was a good meeting. We're still in the phase to see what else could be put in place, but I really want to get the message out that the people there need the assistance," says Vaillancourt.

In 2020, Welcome Hall Mission was asked to run the Complexe Guy-Favreau shelter, but turned it down.

"That facility itself is simply not suitable for that kind of an end use," said Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts.

The shelter is only open overnight, which is likely contributing to tensions in the community, says Watts.

"If you design a place in such a way that you're delivering services 24/7 and it's the right size, the right shape and the right type of building with the right type of facilities in it, then you can avoid a lot of conflict in the neighbourhood," he said.

The city agrees and is asking for more funding from the province to make it happen.

"All the mayors last week at the UMQ [Union of Quebec Municipalities] summit asked for the same thing. It's not just Montreal," said Vaillancourt.

In the meantime, some parents are at a breaking point.

"This is not a cohabitation whatsoever. I mean, we just have to accept that this is the behaviour that they are exhibiting," said Chu.

But there needs to be solutions for both sides, says Watts.

"Kids shouldn't be exposed to this, and the person shouldn't be left in such a vulnerable position that that's the only option that they've got," he said. Top Stories

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