The lack of shelter for the homeless in Gatineau meant that many of them had to stay outside last weekend as cold weather set in the area.
On Tuesday, stakeholders deplored that a dozen homeless people did not have access to a bed or to a warm place on Saturday and Sunday since the 99 places in the usual and emergency accommodation centers were already all busy.
If the mercury only hovers around -8 degrees on the weekend, regional homelessness organizations estimate that up to 30 people could be caught in the same situation during freezing cold. They ask for adequate solutions from the authorities.
“We must not wait for someone’s death before taking action,” said Soupe populaire de Hull general manager Michel Kasongo.
Twenty motel rooms may have been reserved by the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Center in the event of overflows, but admission is not automatic and accessible to all.
The Regional Collective to Fight Homelessness in the Outaouais also considers the solution proposed by the City of Gatineau for a daytime heat stop unacceptable.
The municipal authorities have in fact offered the visitor entrance and an adjacent corridor to the Robert-Guertin arena as a drop-off point.
However, the size of the place does not allow for the reception of the number of people targeted, all the more so taking into account the physical distancing imposed by public health on users and social workers.
What’s more, people with symptoms of COVID-19 would be locked up overnight in a small adjoining storage room, where they would sleep on the ground, just below hockey nets.
“It is inhuman, we are offered a cockroach,” plague Yves Séguin, director general of the Outaouais Drug Addiction Intervention and Prevention Center.
For its part, Roaming Zéro had found four construction trailers from a construction contractor to install them in the parking lot of the arena, but the City refused this option for health and safety reasons.