City pledges $1.4M to fight gun violence in city’s North-East
Mayor Valérie Plante pledged to invest $1.4 million towards community organizations to fight a rise in violent, gun-related crime in Montreal’s North-East.
Mayor Valérie Plante announced the measure on Mar. 10 and said in a statement it would help boroughs “strengthen urban security and improve the quality of life of the people in these neighbourhoods.”
The money will be divided between the 4 boroughs of Montréal-Nord and Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles, which will receive $400,000 each, and Saint-Léonard and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension which will receive $200,000 each. That funding will be concentrated in the borough’s Saint-Michel district.
This is in addition to an extra $200,000 in funding to support inter-borough initiatives, that will “promote consultation and collaboration between the boroughs in order to help prevent violent events.”
The funding will be given to the boroughs and distributed by the borough councils according to local needs, namely for Sain-Michel.
Concentrated on the community
The new funding differs from other security initiatives as it concentrates funding towards community organizations intervening with at-risk youth to mitigate potential violence.
“The violent incidents of the past few months are of great concern to us and we take the situation very seriously,” said Mayor Plante, adding that the funds would allow local organizations to “intervene quickly with young people and ensure their safety.”
Mayor Plante also stated that the money was complementary to the funding the SPVM already receives to address gun violence in the area. She further commended the police’s work saying they were doing “everything in their power to fight violence.”
Plante nonetheless stated more had to be done to address the growing issue and called upon the provincial and federal governments to support efforts on the ground.
An example of prevention in Parc-Extension
Violence prevention organizations already operate in the Parc-Extension neighbourhood. One of those is Centre Jeunesse Unie, a youth community center on Bloomfield street that prides itself in offering a non-violent environment and teaching young residents about non-violent conflict resolution.
Founded in 1989, the center works with teens from ages 12 to 18, with the objective of “contributing directly to improving the quality of life of these young people.”
Although they do not directly intervene in potentially violent situations in the street, the center contributes to the promotion of non-violence in Parc-Extension youth in an attempt to make the area safe for all young people.
Reputation vs. Reality
Richard Vachon is the Director of the youth center and feels the situation is somewhat different in Parc-Extension. When asked about the propensity for gun violence in the area, Vachon said “there isn’t any.”
“The bad reputation Parc-Extension has had in the past is due to one event that occurred in 1992 when at Lucien-Pagé School some young people were playing basketball and a young person fired a gunshot,” said Vachon.
“Other than that there’s no other situation in which there was violence between young people in Parc-Extension,” added Vachon about people under the age of 18.
“Reputation and reality are sometimes not always the same,” he said.
Although the city funding is an effort to intervene directly in affected areas, Vachon believes much more can still be done to foster the long-term prevention of violence by working with people who are still in their teens.
Rise in violence
The announcement comes amid a rise in gun violence in the past year, leading to an increased police presence in the affected areas, according to the SPVM.
One of the most recent violent events occurred on Feb. 8, when a 15-year old girl was killed in Saint-Leonard after being shot in a stopped car.
According to police reports, the girl and the driver were stopped talking to 3 people on the sidewalk when a car pulled up beside them and shot into the car. The girl was brought to the hospital and died from her injuries. It was Montreal’s fifth homicide in 2021.
Nonetheless, Parc-Extension has not seen as high an increase in gun-related violence as other districts in Montreal’s North-East.
The last shooting to occur in Parc-Extension was in Sept. of last year when a 23-year old man was shot in the lower body near the corner of Durocher and St-Roch streets.