Mouvement Montreal releases action plan for Milton Park homeless population
MONTREAL -- New municipal political party Mouvement Montreal criticized the Plante administration Sunday for what it called a “lack of leadership” after recent developments in Milton Parc – where several homeless people spend their time.
A vacant, privately owned lot at Milton and Park Avenue was fenced off in recent days, pushing a group of unhoused people off of land they had come to call home.
“It really hurt me, because that was our place,” Annisee Papialuk, who has been living in the area for 18 years, told CTV news earlier this week.
Advocates have increased calls to the city to provide other living options for homeless people since the fence went up.
“They’re sitting on the sidewalk, passersby have to go into the street to get around them, people are sitting more in the doorways of businesses,” said John Tessier, coordinator for the Open Door Mission, on Friday.
“These people need a safe and dignified place to exist.”
In a press release, the party pledged to “support and advocate” on behalf of Montreal’s Indigenous communities, including residents of Milton Park – many of whom are Inuit and Cree.
“[We pledge to] work with owners of unused properties to establish social housing units specifically for the Indigenous community members living in Milton Parc,” read the release.
The party also pledged to reduce the speed limit on Parc Avenue between Pine and Sherbrooke Street, build an “Indigenous Welcome Space” by June of next year, and increase funding for local food and shelter organizations, among other promises.
“These policy promises are just the beginning. We will continue working with and advocating for the Indigenous community now and into the future.”
"We are closely monitoring the situation of people experiencing homelessness who are established in the Milton / Parc sector," wrote Mayor Valerie Plante's spokesperson in an email to CTV News.
"We have the safety and well-being of Indigenous people at heart and want to provide safe accommodation options."
Montreal has recently provided funding to convert a building on Saint-Hubert Street into a rooming house, and to expand capacity at the Native Women's Shelter with a second building in Little Burgundy.
RESIDENTS CALL SITUATION ‘DESPERATE’
“The homeless situation is desperate, frankly,” said Plateau resident Andree Deveault on Friday.
“They live in dire conditions … many residents are fully aware of this, and fully compassionate.”
Still, she says, groups of people sitting on the sidewalk can make it difficult to get around the city, especially those with mobility needs, such as elderly people.
What’s more, residents have safety concerns as people sit next to the busy roadway, or venture into traffic to ask for change.
“The money that has been spent on ambulances and police alone, you put it all together and a nice centre could have been built already,” said Deveault.