Royal Vic re­lief for packed shel­ters opens Tues­day

Space in old Royal Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal ex­pected to open on Tues­day

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

De­spite the cold snap that has packed Mon­treal-area home­less shel­ters, there are no plans for an early open­ing of the emer­gency shel­ter in the old Royal Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal. A spokesper­son for the Cen­tre in­té­gré uni­ver­si­taire de santé et de ser­vices so­ci­aux du Cen­tre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Mon­tréal said Satur­day the open­ing is still set for Tues­day. The Que­bec gov­ern­ment an­nounced on Dec. 21 a sec­tion of the hos­pi­tal left va­cant after the move to the Glen site in 2015 will shel­ter up to 80 peo­ple and their pets from Jan. 15 to April 15. The emer­gency shel­ter will pri­or­i­tize peo­ple with ad­dic­tion prob­lems or men­tal health is­sues, and any of the city’s shel­ters can re­fer some­one there. For now, Mon­treal shel­ters — which have space for 957 — are packed as tem­per­a­tures in the city dropped after a rel­a­tively mild hol­i­day sea­son. Nightly lows of mi­nus 19 C on Satur­day and mi­nus 18 Sun­day will give way to less harsh overnight tem­per­a­tures of mi­nus 12 Mon­day and mi­nus 9 Tues­day be­fore drop­ping again, to mi­nus 22 on Wed­nes­day. Matthew Pearce, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Old Brew­ery Mis­sion, said ev­ery bed in that shel­ter has been filled for the past few days. But the Old Brew­ery has been work­ing with the Mai­son du Père and the Wel­come Hall Mis­sion to co-or­di­nate ser­vices. If some­one ar­rives at one shel­ter where there’s no room, they are taken where there is room, if not nec­es­sar­ily a bed, he said. “It’s work­ing as well as it can — we try our best,” said Pearce, adding the Old Brew­ery op­er­ates a shut­tle bus ev­ery night that is used to trans­fer peo­ple from one shel­ter to an­other. “But it’s not a great so­lu­tion. It means some peo­ple are sleep­ing at a cafe­te­ria ta­ble or on the floor. It’s not proper, hy­gienic or ap­pro­pri­ate.” The Old Brew­ery Mis­sion’s shut­tle cir­cu­lates from 2 p.m. to 8 a.m. to get peo­ple to the ser­vices they need. The Mis­sion St-Michael/ Toit rouge, lo­cated near Place des Arts, also opens its doors nightly un­til March 31 to al­low peo­ple to warm up. The “Red Roof ” will also have cages for an­i­mals. But start­ing Tues­day, for the first time, the Royal Vic­to­ria will be­come an “over­flow” shel­ter, Pearce said, and wel­come many of the peo­ple who don’t usu­ally use shel­ter ser­vices — like trans­gen­der peo­ple, and peo­ple with pets. “In­stead of hav­ing peo­ple sleep­ing in an undig­ni­fied en­vi­ron­ment, they’ll have a proper place to be,” Pearce said, adding the three shel­ters are shar­ing the ex­tra work in terms of trans­port to the Royal Vic­to­ria, manag­ing op­er­a­tions and clean­ing up. “It won’t be a five-star ho­tel but it will be an ap­pro­pri­ate space for them.” In the mean­time, the CIUSSS, Mon­treal po­lice, Ur­gences-Santé and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions have set up ser­vices to help those in need. No­tably, beds have been added to shel­ters that will re­main open dur­ing the day.

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