Residents of Chinatown find themselves shouldering the impact of an escalating homeless crisis in their city. To highlight their struggles, they recently guided a tour through their neighbourhood for local politicians, providing a first-hand glimpse into the challenges they face daily.
A key concern voiced by the community includes the rampant drug transactions taking place daily in the area, as explained by the vice-president of the Chinese Association of Montreal, Bryant Chang. The residents, unafraid to share their adverse experiences, shared tales of drug-related scuffles they regularly witness within the neighbourhood.
The community, yet again, urges the Valérie Plante administration to take immediate action, as feelings of safety in the neighbourhood deteriorate due to rising crime rates and drug abuse. The executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), Fo Niemi, emphasises the necessity of ramping up police presence as a deterrent to the current surge in drugs and violence, in order to restore the locals’ sense of safety.
The residents’ request extends beyond just remediating problems. They call for the city mayor to witness the precarious state of Chinatown firsthand. Chang mentioned that despite numerous invitations extended to the mayor during previous press conferences to observe the gravity of the situation, her response has been consistently lacking.
Mayor Plante counters these accusations by stating her regular visits to Chinatown, and reminding everyone that there isn’t a singular fix eligible for this complex issue. She highlights actions being undertaken, like increased police arrests and involving social workers from ÉMMIS (L’équipe mobile de médiation et d’intervention sociale).
Uncertainty hovers over the future of the local homeless shelter, which is due to close soon, with no clarity regarding its reopening location. Its inability to provide 24/7 services is also a point of contention, especially on the brink of winter, leaving those in need in an unfavourable situation, as described by Francine, a homeless resident.
The leader of the opposition, Aref Salem, supports the need for round-the-clock operational homeless shelters to truly serve the community. Meanwhile, the residents, backed by community advocates, pledge to continue lobbying City Hall until necessary changes are made to ensure their neighbourhood’s safety.