Christian Généreux says that the situation in the Village district of Montreal is worrying.
“The drug dealers are coming back,” he said Thursday morning, speaking to members of the Montreal police’s Community Consultation and Outreach Team (ECCR).
“There is a kind of tendency to hara*s people on the terraces that are still open. It all comes back.
The city introduced measures at the start of the summer to tackle issues of drug abuse, violence and homelessness, following protests from people who live and work in the area. Now, Généreux, co-founder of the community group J’aime mon Village, fears that with the end of the city’s festivals, these limited resources will be transferred elsewhere.
He points to an incident last Wednesday during which the owners of the Yamato Dumpling restaurant, located on Ste-Catherine Street in the Village, were a*saulted by a person they believe was intoxicated.
“He dragged my husband from the door to the terrace and punched him in the face,” Emily Yu, co-owner of the restaurant, told PKBNEWS.
She added that she was terrified, that she called the police and then tried to separate the two men.
“But then he kicked me, pulled me down and kicked me again and I was hit against the wall,” she said, pointing the right side of his head.
The owners have now closed the terrace.
“It’s not just about asking for money,” Yu stressed. “Now people are getting more and more dangerous.”
Généreux says a plan to tackle the problem of drugs and homelessness is urgently needed as the situation worsens.
“But not just in The Village,” he pointed out. “We see it now in Chinatown, we saw it in Villeray, Rosemont, in the Quartier des Spectacles, it’s spreading everywhere.”
Opposition to Montreal City Hall says one solution is to find ways to make homeless shelters better meet the needs of customers. For example: open places where pets and couples can be accommodated.
“Obviously, what is being done now is not effective,” said opposition leader Aref Salem. “It is not enough.”
A month ago, the provincial government announced plans to fund supervised injection sites in the city, but junior health minister Lionel Carmant said other programs were also in the works.
“We will be announcing, over the next few months, supportive housing,” he told PKBNEWS. “There are about 200 doors that are supposed to open in this area.
In a statement, Mayor Valérie Plante’s office said the a*sault on restaurant owners is unacceptable.
“We are extremely sensitive to the social climate of the Village sector and share the despair of certain traders and citizens,” the statement read.
“This is why for months the SPVM, EMMIS, the City and the health network have been working together to improve security in the central sectors and in the Village. To residents and merchants: we will not disappoint you.
“Even if we are told that the efforts are beginning to be felt and that the SPVM remains proactive, we must continue the work and redouble our efforts. We are preparing to take stock of this summer and we are thinking about how to improve our actions on the ground for the fall.
Généreux believes, however, that what is needed now is more funding from the province for community organizations working on the front lines. Community groups are planning a protest in the neighborhood to voice their concerns.
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