Elected officials consider eviction of two Montreal tenant defense groups ‘deplorable’

The City of Montreal pledges to help move two tenant-rights groups after they were forced out of a Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve building bought by a private Toronto school. At the same time, elected members of the National Assembly call for Quebec to provide greater stability to community organizations that are tenants.

Cestar College, located in Queen City, last fall acquired a four-story commercial building on Ontario Street East. He plans to completely renovate it and then offer four educational programs. This building initially housed six social organisations, but three have left the building in recent months. Among the remaining organizations that will soon be shut down are two groups for the defense of tenants in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, namely the BAILS Committee and Entraide Logement. They must leave the building at 1er July, reported The duty Friday.

“It’s troubling, especially as these are organizations working for the right to housing, an essential issue for our neighbourhood,” Hochelaga County Councilor Eric Alan Caldwell said in writing on Friday. He assured that a council employee had been “in contact” with these two tenant defense groups “since March” to help them move.

“At the moment we are once again at the helm with them to support them in finding a property that suits them. We want to maintain the popular vocation of the district, with a strong and unified social fabric,” added Mr Caldwell.

The eviction of community groups is also common and “sadly reminds us that the housing crisis affects and affects everyone,” the office of Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante wrote late in the afternoon. “However, the city does not have the regulatory levers to eliminate these practices in commercial buildings”, whose leases offer tenants very weak protection compared to their equivalent in residential buildings, stressed the press officer Marikym Gaudreault.

† [La Ville] however, ensures that it guides and supports the organizations involved in various ways, in particular by: […] its subsidy program for buildings with a social vocation and in supporting the search for a new building”, she argued.

The spokesperson for the Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment, Véronique Laflamme, suggests that the city reserve some of its “excess” buildings and land for community organizations. They could then get out of the precarious situation imposed on them by having to sign a commercial lease and also have the guarantee that they can stay in the heart of the neighborhoods they serve, she says. “Organizations must remain at the heart of the communities that have deployed these resources,” the spokesperson said.

“However, there is a lack of community social infrastructure to accommodate organizations in all neighborhoods” of Montreal, also notes Quebec Solidarity Representative Andrés Fontecilla, who is asking Quebec to provide housing to community groups in need.

The Legault government could also address “the total lack of supervision of commercial leases”, the deputy added. “The Quebec government needs to legislate on this matter, but I see few opportunities that…[il] act in this direction,” he said, describing the eviction of two groups defending the tenants of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve as “deplorable”.

A disturbing university

On the part of the Parti Québécois (PQ), it is especially the expressed interest of this private university in Toronto to expand to Montreal and the rest of Quebec that is causing a reaction, at a time when the Quebec government intends to in the coming months its Bill 96, which aims to strengthen the Charter of the French language.

“In its own Bill 96, the government told us it wanted to freeze student enrollment in private, unsubsidized Anglophone colleges. To accept the arrival of Cestar College would be contrary to the spirit of its own law, which is nonsense,” wrote PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

“If the CAQ allows, we will have another demonstration of its dual discourse in linguistic matters. I think at this stage the citizens of Eastern Montreal need a lot more community organizations working in housing than a private English-language university,” he added.

The Department of Education and Higher Education confirms that Cestar College’s file regarding the development of a school in a building on Ontario Street East is currently “under analysis”. The management of this Toronto facility has also taken steps to acquire the controversial colleges of the Quebec company Rising Phoenix International, but again, “the license transfer request is still under analysis by the Department of Education and the Department of Education. of Higher Education,” says Communications Director Bryan St-Louis.

Located in Montreal, Longueuil, and Sherbrooke, the Rising Phoenix colleges had been the subject of numerous criticisms, particularly regarding the staggering additional fees imposed on foreign students and questionable recruitment tactics. Then, last June, Secretary of Higher Education Danielle McCann presented an action plan to tighten oversight of non-government-funded private colleges.

With Jeanne Corriveau and Lisa-Marie Gervais

To be seen in video

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