Campers living under Quebec expressway given ultimatum. Man calls it ‘not fair’

People living under the Ville-Marie Expressway in Quebec have been given an ultimatum to leave.

Transports Quebec has given an eviction notice to those living in the tent city. They have until July 11 to vacate and clean up the camp.

“This time they’re asking us to leave for good. It’s not fair,” said Jacko Stuben who has been living under the overpass for the past ten years.

He says he hasn’t slept a wink gathering his belongings.

“We are making a trolley and we are taking all the important stuff,” he explained.

The eviction comes following a Quebec court of appeal ruling last week.

It was the end of a drawn-out legal battle between those representing residents of the encampment and the Ministry of Transport.

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The ministry has been trying to evict people since November so they can carry out repair work on the overpass.

The judge said the work can no longer be delayed, but he took an unusual two weeks to issue his ruling.

“Certainly the extra time helped,” said David Chapman, head of Resilience Montreal which has been helping the group.

Chapman says most of the 15 people or so who live there have applied for housing. The time was needed as only two of them so far have secured a spot.

Chapman is asking the city to put in place an interim measure, such as a designated area where they can camp out while they wait, or for authorities to provide a hotel.

“The challenge is that if that’s not provided and they’re simply looking for green spaces, abandoned buildings and dark alleyways where they’re much more likely to be alone and in a higher state of danger,” Chapman explained.

That would make it also harder for people to reach them to let them know when their housing has been finalized.

Transports Quebec declined Global News’ interview request.

Catherine Cadotte, a spokesperson for Mayor Valerie Plante said in part that the city is sensitive to the situation and will continue to support those working to help people experiencing homelessness. However, she said encampments are not a sustainable or safe solution.

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“The safety issues are serious, especially given the presence of flammable material in encampments. In fact, we have avoided a tragedy a few weeks ago after a camp set on fire in the Ville-Marie borough,” Cadotte said in an email to Global News.

“We say and repeat that it’s essential to find safe alternatives to encampments and that necessarily involves going through the services, shelters and social housing with community support. Our priority is to get vulnerable people closer to social workers and specialized resources.”

Meanwhile, people like 70-year-old Michel Campbell, are dreading July 11, which happens to be his birthday.

“It’s a nice gift,” Campbell said sarcastically.

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