Dismantling of homeless camp under the Ville-Marie expressway postponed

"We're going to have to leave and we don't really know anybody," says one of the many currently living under the Ville-Marie expressway in Montreal. Eviction notices are up and the area is set to be dismantled on Thursday. Felisha Adam reports.

By Cole Fortner & Felisha Adam

UPDATE: The Transport Ministry (MTQ) has postponed the dismantling of the homeless encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway, until they can help work with the city, organizations, and others to relocate the community. The MTQ confirmed to CityNews in an email statement on Wednesday that no new date is set for the evictions, “but the MTQ will continue to dialogue with the campers and is in contact with the Ministry of Social Services on this issue.”


Sûreté du Québec will be enforcing evictions of a homeless community living in a “survival camp” under the Ville-Marie expressway on Thursday at 10am, all to make way for maintenance work by Quebec’s Transport Ministry.

Resilience Montreal, a non-profit shelter located at Atwater and Sainte Catherine — says those living in the camp have been visited by police several times over the past few weeks, informing them of the upcoming requirement to leave.

With a lack of thought behind where these residences will go after they leave, David Chapman part of Resilience Montreal says, this will have ‘devastating effects’, 

“In the absence of alternatives, what else are they supposed to do?” questions Chapman, “living in a tent under a bridge is not an ideal circumstance. People are not here because they really want to be here,” he says.

Sûreté du Québec officers speaking to residents of the encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway

Sûreté du Québec officers speaking to residents of the encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway (Photo credit: Felisha Adam)

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montreal has seen an increase in homelessness. Resilience Montreal says since 2020, the population they serve has doubled, many are faced with living in outdoor shelters.

Encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway

Encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway (Photo credit: Felisha Adam)

“Shelters will tell you there are not enough beds available for the homeless population in Montreal. Those living under the bridge have experienced severe trauma, addiction, and mental health issues that can often render them ineligible for existing housing programs and current emergency shelter,” said Resilience Montreal in a statement.

Those in the encampment were given notices of evictions Monday, by Sûreté du Québec officers. The notice asks for residents to remove all their belongings adding that failing to comply will see all needed measures be taken without further notice or delay. 

“Does this mean that the most vulnerable in the city are unworthy of basic human rights? In displacing these people, many of them will be left without any alternative but to sleep under more dangerous conditions. Have we learned nothing from the May 2022 Ombudsman’s report on homelessness?”

Na’kuset, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter says that “forced displacement has proven to be a tactic that does not work.”

“We need to do better as a society,” Na’kuset said.

Resident of encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway

Resident of encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway (Photo credit: Felisha Adam)

A resident of the encampment says, situations like these makes them feel like they are not worthy, “The city really doesn’t care about the people living here,” he says.

A spokesperson from Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation tells CityNews in a statement “We need to evacuate the area for safety purposes, since the Ministry is planning repairs on the structure and this cannot be done with people staying underneath. Moreover, this sector is not suitable for any type of housing,”


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It’s hard, you know, because we’re going to have to leave and we don’t really know anybody or anything,” for those living in the encampment, the area has been home for them, the people have become a community for them.

Residents of encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway

Residents of encampment under the Ville-Marie expressway (Photo credit: Felisha Adam)

“Everybody gets along with everybody and we all try to make sure everybody’s safe around here, we just want to live in our tent, you know? Be safe, you know?”

Chapman says, by separating the small community it poses bigger problems in the future.

If they’re scattered. Not only will their friends not know where they are, but also intervention workers from various agencies will have a hard time finding them and the probability will be that we will be ending up doing more memorials.”

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