Twenty homeless people camped under the Ville-Marie highway in Westmount are asking the court to prevent their eviction by the Quebec government, which has started work near the camp.
The campers are demanding an injunction that would give them at least until July 15 to leave their site, near Atwater Avenue, as the Quebec Ministry of Transport (MTQ) announced that it intended to dismantle the camp before the end of March.
The request, filed Thursday at the Montreal courthouse by the Traveling Legal Clinic, emphasizes that it is to ensure their survival that homeless people gather in camps, which become mutual aid communities.
“For the members of the Fellowship, their forced eviction from the camp without protective measures and during the winter months represents a major disturbance. […] The loss of the support network that the Community forms constitutes a significant trauma that can have aggravating effects for people who are already highly vulnerable,” the court document states.
“Although it is the responsibility of the government of Quebec to ensure the relocation of the members of the Community, no alternative or solution of relocation was presented to its members in view of the eviction,” it also mentions .
The injunction request profiles some of the residents of the encampment, which has existed for at least 10 years. There is a pregnant woman, who suffers from an addiction to alcohol, crack and cocaine, as well as hepatitis C. She and her partner cannot stay together in the shelters, which are not mixed . His efforts to obtain housing were unsuccessful, the document points out.
Another “currently lives with her partner and their cats. She has already been followed in mental health and is currently accompanied by a worker from the YMCA and a nurse from the organization Chez Doris. [She] previously occupied an apartment in Montreal with her spouse, which they had to leave due to multiple infestations of cockroaches and bedbugs as well as the excessive cost,” one can read.
We also talk about a person in the terminal phase of a blood infection, affected by mental health problems, who once suffered from a heroin addiction and currently suffers from a morphine addiction, living in the encampment with his cat, and a man with lung cancer receiving radiation treatments three times a week, who was evicted last fall from another similar encampment in Chinatown and saw all his discarded personal effects.
“Because of the high prevalence among them of substance abuse, substance abuse, and mental health issues, they fall through the cracks of the systems put in place to help them, such as homeless shelters and programs of relocation,” explains the injunction request.
“These difficulties in accessing shelters, shelters or drop-in centers are more broadly part of the housing crisis in the city of Montreal, both in terms of the limited number of places in the shelters and the lack of subsidized or affordable apartments. »
The Mobile Legal Clinic expresses its desire to enter into negotiations with the government in order to find solutions to relocate campers, which respect their needs and rights.
“The eviction of the Community from their camp would force extremely vulnerable people into greater precariousness, destabilize them, endanger their physical and mental health, their safety and possibly their lives,” she argues.
It is a group of lawyers from the firm Osler, Hoskin