Montreal Daycare Parents Fear for Kids Amid Rise in Nearby Drug Activity and Crime

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Concern has gripped parents associated with a daycare centre in downtown Montreal – CPE Le Petit Palais, as the prevalence of crime and drug abuse in the vicinity threatens the safety of their children. Unwanted interactions with the local transient community have become an unpleasant regularity.

Describing the troubling circumstances, Alexandra Gareepy, a daycare educator, expressed her worries. “They loiter, smoke near the play area, constantly lurking by the fence,” she said. She further lamented about the lack of respect for their space, with the homeless using their windows as makeshift toiletry facilities and bathing spots, creating a chaotic environment.

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Several pressing safety issues have been escalating since the city authorised the use of Complexe Guy-Favreau as an emergency overnight shelter during the pandemic, located a mere few hundred metres away from the daycare centre. The shelter is due to be moved at the end of October, however, the new location remains undetermined by the city.

Upon investigating, traces of human faeces were found in one of the daycare centre’s window wells, illustrating a grim and hygiene issue. But parents insist that such disturbing observations are not the worst of their kids’ experiences. As Phil Chu, a parent, explained, “Children inadvertently become viewers to illegal activities like drug deals happening right in front their windows, and people consuming crack.” He stressed that these scenarios were extremely inappropriate for children’s exposure.

As a response to rising concerns, Alain Vaillancourt, head of the city’s public security met with the daycare community to work out potential solutions. Expressing a hopeful note, Vaillancourt stated, “It was a productive meeting. We are reviewing more possible interventions, but it’s critical to make known the urgent need for help in that area.”

In 2020, the management of Complexe Guy-Favreau was proposed to Welcome Hall Mission, but they declined the offer due to the inappropriateness of the facility for the intended purpose, as expressed by its CEO, Sam Watts. Providing insight into the ongoing problem, Watts highlighted the lack of round-the-clock services as a key source of tension in the community. His firm belief is that a 24/7 service in a favourable environment can significantly reduce conflicts.

In light of Watts’ comment, the city agreed and is now seeking additional funding from the provincial government. Vaillancourt acknowledged that this problem was not exclusive to Montreal, citing that the other mayors at the UMQ summit had echoed similar pleas.

Meanwhile, parents are nearing their limits. Chu voiced his frustration, “This is not cohabitation at all. We’re forced to tolerate this behaviour.” He, along with Watts, emphasized the need for solutions that benefit both the distressed parents and the vulnerable homeless population. Watts stressed, “Children shouldn’t be witness to this. Neither should anyone be left in such a helpless state where they have no better options.”