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Montreal Chinatown residents are calling on the city to help homeless people living in the Guy-Favreau camp

Montreal Chinatown residents are calling on the city to help homeless people living in the Guy-Favreau camp
Montreal Chinatown residents are calling on the city to help homeless people living in the Guy-Favreau camp

Residents of Complexe Guy-Favreau in Montreal’s Chinatown are calling on municipal authorities to intervene and help the homeless people living in front of their building. They also want to take down the tents there, which they say pose health and safety issues.

“We have been living in a very, very difficult situation for four years,” says Alain Clavet, who has lived in the building with his partner Martine Ousset for the past nine years.

He is one of the group of people who have filed a complaint with the police, but without result.

Alain Clavet and his partner Martine Ousset, residents of Montreal’s Chinatown. (Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews photo)

“I complain about noise, safety, even noise at night,” he said, adding that residents are often woken up at 5 a.m. by the noise. “It’s just not acceptable. And in the building you have older people of Chinese descent or other descent, and they are shy. They are afraid to go out.”

Clavet has been working with other residents to resolve the issues with Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.

They accuse both the police and the city of failing to enforce municipal ordinances regarding noise pollution, illegal parking, littering, etc.

“All of these things are regulated by municipal ordinances and people are saying it’s high time they want their neighborhoods and their streets back,” Niemi said.

They are calling on the authorities to help ensure peace and quality of life in the area.

“If people like us leave, what is the conclusion? That the old residents have to leave because the city can’t solve the problem? That doesn’t make sense,” Clavet said.

There used to be a homeless shelter in Complexe Guy-Favreau, but it was closed in December and moved to Verdun. But that will also close at the end of July. A new one will open in Ahuntsic-Cartierville in August.

Clavet says there are still issues with homelessness and addiction in Chinatown, and he says police are often there to remove tents.

“Every eight days you have to do it again, because they come back,” he said. “It’s not a solution. The solution is to give these people a small apartment, even a room.”

Alain Clavet and his partner Martine Ousset with Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations. (Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

Because Clavet and Niemi claim that the city is not taking action on this issue, residents will unite and form an advocacy group.

“A lot of Chinese residents are sometimes culturally hesitant to speak up and speak out, so we’re helping to organize,” Niemi said. “We’re going to be announcing in the next two weeks the formation of a Chinatown residents’ association, made up of people from all backgrounds, people who live here, who will hopefully take matters into their own hands.”

A spokesperson for the City of Montreal tells CityNews that the phenomenon of encampments is a concern for them and that two liaisons work full-time with the SPVM and homeless shelter partners to refer people to shelter services.

According to them, there are regular intervention workers on site and municipal teams monitor people and regularly carry out dismantling and cleaning work.

:More specifically for Chinatown and the area around the Guy-Favreau Complex, campers and homeless people represent for some a group of users of very strong drugs. The City of Montreal is in discussions with the network of health and social services about intervention with these vulnerable people who need a medical approach given their specific situation.”

“The most important word is compassion,” Clavet said. “I think we have to put compassion into action. We have to do something. We can’t leave people like that on the streets.”