Sunday, September 03, 2006

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Montreal bans sleeping in public (Article from CTV news)
Montreal is cracking down on the city's homeless population by imposing a controversial ban that makes it illegal to sleep overnight in all public places. News Staff
Effective Friday, Montreal will fine people who sleep in public places overnight
Effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Montreal's solution is to fine people who sleep in public places overnight.
"We've had problems with prostitution, drug dealings, street gangs, and stuff like that," City of Montreal spokesperson Benoit Labonte told CTV News.
It was already illegal to sleep in public parks, but now Montreal has added downtown squares to the ban. The controversial move is in response to complaints, the city said.
Almost 200,000 Canadians are homeless. Cities across Canada have been looking for solutions to the issue, with Victoria, Ottawa and Toronto adopting partial bans similar to Montreal's.
Trying to find shelter for them and keeping them out of public parks is an increasingly complex problem. Montreal has about 500 beds in its three main shelters.
The city has instructed police to first suggest a list of shelters. But eventually they will be slapping sleepers with fines ranging from $38 to $141.
Because shelters are often listed as the only address for some of the homeless, shelters say that tickets arrive every day for nuisance crimes such as spitting on the street or crossing a street against a red light.
If you're living on the street, it's unlikely you have money to pay a fine. Montreal has a solution for that, too: unpaid fines win the sleeper a stay in a city jail.
Mathieu St-Jean, a homeless Montrealer, said he has lived on the city's streets for eight months. He panhandles during the day and settles into a park at night to sleep.
"I'm not bothering anybody," he said.
"I would have thought as a city such as ours, we're better than simply sweeping them out of the squares," said Jim Hughes, director general of Montreal's Old Brewery Mission.
Experts estimate that at least three-quarters of people who live on the streets suffer from mental illnesses. Many don't want to go to shelters.
Estimates of the number of homeless people in Montreal vary, with 30,000 being one of the highest. The city has about 500 beds in its three main shelters.
The ban could force many of them underground. Some of Montreal's homeless say it will force them to seek refuge in bus shelters, stairwells and alleyways -- out of sight, but not off the streets.
Member of the homeless population say that being homeless is bad enough, being fined for being homeless is yet another seemingly insurmountable problem to deal with.
"Dealing with this kind of repression just means angrier and angrier people," one homeless man said.
With a report by CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin in Montreal


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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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