Sky owner wants homelessness to be election issue
Sky Pub owner Peter Sergakis has created an association of downtown businesspeople and residents “for public safety,” according to a statement yesterday. The announcement came following an altercation that the pub-owner had in the Village with three people whom he believed to be homeless at the beginning of August. Peter Sergakis is asking that the Québec government provide more resources to the City of Montréal to deal with the problem. Critics say Sergakis’s proposal is based more on repression than on helping the needy.
- L’Actuel sur rue: Getting tested just got easier
- Street smarts: L’Actuel opens storefront location
- Relax (take it easy): Hotel Felix + Apsara
Until now, little had been heard on the issue from the businesman one of the Village strip’s most influential. Owner of several establishments in Montréal (namely Sky and the Station des Sports, both on Ste Catherine Est), Peter Segakis plans to fight the negative impact of “groups of people composed of homeless from across Canada, of bums abandoned by the system, squeegees tolerated by the authorities, members of anarchist groups and individuals who are the victims of deinstitutionalization,” he wrote.
On Friday (Aug. 3), Sergakis announced the founding of the “Regroupement des gens d’affaires et résidents de Ville-Marie pour la sécuité publique” (the Association of Ville-Marie businesspeople and residents for public safety). The former president of the Union of Québec Bar Owners hopes thereby to exert pressure on elected officials to make homelessness a priority.
Two days before, Sergakis had an “altercation” with people he believed to be homeless. He told the CBC that three itinerants came onto the patio of the Station des Sports and disrupted patrons. One of them took a steak off a patron’s plate and started eating it, Sergakis told the CBC, causing the owner to intervene to get the people in question to leave the premises. A complaint has been filed by Sergakis and by one of the people in question. The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) has opened an investigation.
“Québec must give more money”
While the homelessness issue is a thorny one that has come to the fore several times in the past year, Sergakis’s complaints are aimed at the Québec government, which he says has neglected the problem. “Québec has to give more money to Montréal,” the bar baron told the Journal de Montréal. In a press release sent out this week, Sergakis calls for a government-funded framework to provide Montréal police with the necessary tools to make the streets of downtown Montréal safe.”
During a press conference yesterday (Aug. 6), Mayor Tremblay says he was prepared to listen to Mr. Sergakis’s suggestions and incorporate them into his plan for the homeless. In May of this year, the Mayor of Montréal said he was delighted by a Québec government’s announcement of $5 million of additional funding to fight homelessness from a “health standpoint” rather than a judicial one. The bulk of Québec’s funding injection has gone to employing an additional 120 police officers, ostensibly to “deal with the homeless.” Québec’s Health Minister announced the creation of 2 emergency “psychosocial” teams made up of a social worker and a police officer, as well as a group home to house up to 31 people with housing and mental health issues in Montréal-North; the Village was not named as one of the priority areas targeted by the project, however.
Gérald Tremblay issued the homeless challenge to the parties running in the upcoming election, asking for the funding to fight homelessness to be increased by the winning party. For Sergakis, he’s clear that he wants homelessness and safety issues related thereto to become an election issue come September 4.
For organizations that work with the homeless, such as Dans la rue, the proposal by Peter Sergakis is too focused on increasing police presence. “We need services that are better adapted, on the psychiatric front, for instance,” said Aki Tchitacov, director the centre for street youth on Ontario Est.
Banner photo via MSRIDE