Two benches limiting the rest time to 15 minutes, and that some consider hostile to the homeless, had to be removed Thursday by the borough of Ville-Marie.
“No rest allowed at Cabot Square,” said Nakuset, director of the native women’s shelter of Montreal, by publishing on Twitter a photo of a bench controversial.
As for other benches in the surroundings of the Cabot Square, armrests in center prevent people to lie down. In addition, the bench repainted in blue flaunts an inscription “rest 15 min”, and a pictogram of a person walking with a cane.
If the bench was already in place, the time limit is recent. According to the City of Montreal, this addition has been done “in consultation with the stakeholders of the community working with people experiencing homelessness and residents”.
On the contrary, Nakuset, who is familiar with the homeless population frequenting Cabot Square, maintains that there has been no consultation.
She has found changes when Sheila Woodhouse, with whom she co-founded the day centre Resiliency Montreal, took a picture of the bench blue in the last days.
“Is this the beginning of a new trend? This is my concern,” says Nakuset.
A person sitting more than a quarter of an hour will she be fined, questioned-t-it.
For her, it is possible to have urban furniture allowing seniors to rest without being hostile to marginalized populations.
“The people who are in Cabot Square were already very few services,” said Ms. Nakuset, and “with the déconfinement, they have less and less”.
Removal of the bench
“It comes from the old pews put in place by the previous administration that I have thoroughly condemned. This bench has no place in the surroundings of the Cabot Square because it participates in the stigmatization of persons in a situation of homelessness. It will be removed immediately,” responded the mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante, via Twitter.
“As a City, we still have a long way to go to develop better reflexes on the installation of the furniture in public to be more inclusive and I am of this battle,” added Mrs Plant, who is also mayor of the borough of Ville-Marie.
Thursday night, the bench had actually been withdrawn, has confirmed the City. It is also the case to another bench similar, but with no arms, located in the parc Hector-Toe-Blake, close to Cabot Square.
According to the City of Montreal, the temporal limit “is in response to requests of older citizens wishing to be able to rest on their journey.” It was noted that the public benches in this area are very used.
The development of the bench blue notes of the borough, according to the firm of Mrs. Plant. “They were installed and where they are retired”, said his press officer Geneviève Jutras.
It’s very good that they deleted it, commented Nakuset, adding that it would be even better to replace it.
This is not the first time that banks anti-roaming are settled in Ville-Marie. In may 2019, TVA Nouvelles reported the presence of benches with armrests in the center near the central bus station on Berri street. The City said that these benches are designed to help the elderly or people with reduced mobility to sit and get up.