Vaccination centre in Montreal moved from Park Ex to Outremont, some residents upset
MONTREAL -- A vaccination clinic that was planned for Parc-Extension was moved, in a last-minute switch, to neighbouring Outremont—which locals say will compromise how many in Parc-Ex, a COVID-19 hot spot, it will reach.
While the new site is only a 20-minute walk from the old one, the unseen obstacles are much bigger, say people in Parc-Ex, which has the city’s highest proportion of new immigrants, as well as many low-income seniors who lack easy transportation.
People there are already “hard to reach for [COVID-19] testing,” said one person who works in social services there.
“We’re trying to take down barriers, and I’m not sure why they’d try to add more.”
The Centre-West health authority had to make the change after negotiations stalled, said spokesman Barry Morgan.
“We were unable to reach an agreement with the landlord,” he said.
That site was supposed to be in a Parc Ave. building that’s mostly rented by the Universite de Montreal for its school of public health. The university doesn’t own the building.
The new site is south across the train tracks, also on the U de M’s new campus in the area, but on the Outremont side, across the new footbridge near Acadie metro.
A notice sent out this week, provided to CTV News, informed health staff in Parc-Ex that the new clinic site will open Friday at the Outremont address but didn’t provide a reason for the change.
So far, vaccinations have been given out in Parc-Ex in the testing clinic that’s been operating out of the basement of the CSLC, right across from where the mass vaccination site was supposed to be.
To get people to the new site, however, will take more coordination, and that often falls on locals to do, said one Parc-Ex resident.
The new site, while close by, is also out of the way and not near frequently used services. For elderly people who don’t speak English or French, for example, they may fear getting lost in a new neighbourhood.
“I do feel there's a lot of weight and strain put on community groups to look out for each other and to make sure no one falls through the cracks and to spread the word and these kinds of things,” said Laura Wills, a community activist who sits on the governing board at a local school.
“It makes it harder, it puts more and more pressure on them to have to take care of everybody because things are made more difficult by administrative decision like this,” she said.
The Villeray-Saint-Michel-Park Ex borough has been one of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods on the Island of Montreal accounting for 9,308 positive novel coronavirus cases and 182 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
“It's just a lot is being asked of the community to really make sure that the people that need vaccinations are not forgotten about,” said Wills.