As soon as they settle in, as soon as they are driven out

Granby disavows his approach to places of tolerance

“They want us to be less comfortable so that we feel like going to an apartment, but there aren’t even any! »

This cry from the heart is Danny’s. It was behind a cemetery, near the Yamaska ​​River, that he established his camp. A tent, a wooden cabin, a small fireplace between a few bricks, but above all many various objects that the man has collected from the four corners of the city. A makeshift installation that Danny knows is temporary.


Danny, who set up camp at the back of a cemetery

In two days, someone will definitely come and ask me to leave.


If the man is convinced of this, it is because Granby has decided to put an end to the tolerance zones where people experiencing homelessness could set up camp. They now find themselves forced to travel frequently.

Since the places of tolerance were closed, Danny finds himself regularly evicted by the authorities. “We are not allowed to set up more than three tents and they come about twice a week to ask us to move,” says his friend Jean, with whom he shares a cigarette.

A support project

This abandonment of places of tolerance is one of the measures of the City’s action plan on homelessness, announced last week. “We realized that this was not the best solution for people,” explains the mayor of Granby, Julie Bourdon.


Julie Bourdon, mayor of Granby

We saw an increase in the issues of violence, aggression, drug consumption, so it exploded even within places of tolerance.

Julie Bourdon, mayor of Granby

It is on community organizations and various services that the City wishes to focus on in order to promote more sustainable support. “We came to put in place an action plan that will truly determine a continuum of services for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness,” said the mayor. We are working in particular on setting up a respite stop and also to allow the soup kitchen to serve 365 days a year, which is not the case today. »

A set of services from which Francis says he is “grateful” to be able to benefit from. Among them, the SOS Dépannage organization, the Partage Notre-Dame soup kitchen and the Le Passant accommodation center. “We’re lucky, the people involved are very understanding. »


Francis, 29, found himself on the street not long ago.

The 29-year-old man, recently on the street, is busy packing up his camp to avoid getting caught in the rain. If it is with pride that he presents his latest findings, he also does not hide his relief at finally being able to leave the precariousness of his situation.

“I was 35e on the waiting list at the accommodation center, but now I’m next, he rejoices. Once I’m there, I can stay there for three years and get back to a job and a routine. »

A lack of housing

The question of accommodation has been at the heart of questions since the announcement of the plan by the City. In Granby, there are four centers, two for men and two for women. These establishments, often in high demand, have few places. This is particularly the case at the Le Passant center, which has around fifteen beds, according to Karine Lussier, director of the Poverty Solutions Action Group (GASP), which brings together several community organizations whose mission is the fight against poverty in Haute-Yamaska. .

A shortage more visible in services intended for women. “At the Entret’elles center, there are around four or five beds,” explains Lussier. Of course, it’s not a lot because we’ve seen a big increase in women’s homelessness in recent years, so obviously, there too, there are waiting lists. »

Mélanie is a regular at these centers. Today, she hopes to be able to take a shower there. But beyond hygiene, if the forty-year-old goes there often, it is mainly because of security issues.

The first need to be met is security. It happened a couple of times that people had their tents burned. Last week again.


Security issues that Danny knows well too.


John and Danny

“Three times, I had everything I had stolen. (…) I can’t go to the center, because if I don’t monitor my stock, everything will be stolen,” he explains.

Lack of funds

Beyond the lack of places, the problem of accommodation in Granby is also based on the lack of funds. “We have community organizations which currently have empty beds, but which have waiting lists because they do not have enough funding to have other employees to manage these beds,” explains Karine Lussier.


Places of tolerance are no longer in force in Granby.

According to the head of the GASP, there are around fifty people experiencing homelessness in Granby, to which is added invisible homelessness, which concerns around a hundred people. And the director is categorical: “There are no 150 places available in Granby in resources for people experiencing homelessness. We are very far from the mark. »

It is to respond to this problem that the City has planned, as part of its housing policy, the creation of 300 affordable housing units within the next two years, including 90 from next fall.

Announcements which leave the main stakeholders perplexed, who often accuse the City and certain accommodation centers of infantilizing them or treating them in a “robotic” manner. “You arrive a minute late in the center and you don’t come in,” laments Jean. “And if you want to take a shower, it’s at a specific time,” Danny adds.


Camp where Danny and Jean are resting

For both men, the end of the camps is synonymous with an increase in precariousness. “I don’t even have time to settle down to be comfortable when they’re already asking me to leave,” laments Danny.

They want to disperse us so that we are less visible. I feel dehumanized.


If there is one thing on which Jean and Danny have the same point of view, it is the fact that these disagreements with the municipality are mainly linked to a lack of political representativeness. “The person who represents us would have to come from the street, because today, he’s a police officer,” explains Danny. And we give all our ideas to street workers, but it’s always rejected when it comes higher up. »

Even though the two men know that they will soon have to move from the camp again, they take advantage of the mildness of the early afternoon to simply chat in peace. Danny is already thinking about a few places where he could set up his next camp.


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