Some downtown businesses are using discomfort to discourage homeless people from hanging around.
The Archambault store at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Berri has installed 2 rows of 2 inch metal spikes along its windows, making it impossible for homeless people to sleep there, or to loiter.
Matthew Pearce, the director general of the Old Brewery Mission, says the spikes are not a bad idea if they encourage more homeless people to sleep inside shelters but he says businesses using them should be helping the homeless in other ways.
“Business owners can’t get off that easily. If they are going to put in place elements that prevent someone from sleeping there, they should also be putting a sign in the window showing how much they are contributing to homelessness.”
Anderson Osies, a homeless person sleeping in the Place Émilie-Gamelin, next to the Archambault, agreed, in part, with Pearce.
“Maybe it's going to help us find other places, like shelters to sleep, because it’s better for us to go there than to sleep on a corner.”
But he says that for people who don’t want to go to a shelter it means fewer warm areas to sleep.
“People have to sleep somewhere; two guys and a girl often sleep there, so I don’t know what they are going to do now.”
“It’s not ok to have those spikes all over, you can’t sleep, you can’t sit, you can’t do anything, they should be removed,” another homeless man told CJAD.
Both men pointed out to CJAD that the McDonald's a few doors down from the Archambault has similar spikes installed.
The community group, Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal, says Mayor Denis Coderre should intervene.
“The mayor should act on this issue, having measures to keep homeless people outside the front of businesses in not the solution. They need housing, they need services, they don’t need measures to keep them away from public space, that doesn’t make homelessness disappear, it just moves them away," spokesperson Pierre Gaudreau said.
In London, England, the spikes have been popping up and causing controversy. The mayor Boris Johnson tweeted that the spikes were "ugly, self defeating & stupid" and should be removed as soon as possible.