Parks Canada cancels Lachine Canal tenting occasion amid criticism from homeless advocates

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People working with Montreal’s homeless community are applauding Parks Canada’s decision to cancel its planned camping event along the Lachine Canal this weekend.

The organization had set up workshops for people to learn basic camping skills over the next five weeks and charged a registration fee of $108.75 per tent.

Parks Canada’s website gives no reason for the cancellation, and the same event that was scheduled for July 23, August 13, 20 and 27 appears to still be happening.

Advocates for people affected by homelessness in Montreal have complained of a double standard, arguing that the city bans homeless people from pitching tents on public land for security reasons. Those found camping illegally face fines ranging from $100 to $1,000.

“The city of Montreal has zero tolerance for people camping, but here, for $108, we show you how to camp on land that homeless people have used in the past and have been asked to leave,” said Annie Archambault Rue action prevention jeunesse.

James Hughes, President of the Old Brewery Mission, said he was delighted with the event’s cancellation, adding that the workshop had sent an “unacceptable” message.

“That means public squares, public parks, are only for people who can pay and not for people in extreme poverty and homelessness,” he said. “This event was destined to fail utterly.”

He urges authorities to take better account of cohabitation in public places in Montreal, especially in the context of the housing crisis.

“Until we can find the means for 100 percent of Montrealers to find affordable housing that meets their needs, we think we need to be much more tolerant of people camping in parks like the Lachine Canal.”