Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre , with whom I continue to be impressed, showed once again yesterday that he is a man of the people. When it was brought to his attention that “anti-homeless” devices had been installed outside some stores on one of the city’s main shopping streets he was irate, and ordered their immediate removal.
“I find it unacceptable because it sends the wrong message, as long as I’m here it will be totally unacceptable — we can’t have that kind of society.” said Coderre.
These contraptions – they resemble a human version of the anti-pigeon spikes found on many buildings – are wrong on so many levels. From a purely public safety perspective they pose a danger to all citizens. What if an elderly pedestrian wanted to sit for a moment to catch their breath, or a child hop up on the window ledge to get a better view. Both would have been shocked by the unwelcoming spikes placed there to deter homeless citizens from seeking shelter. What next, nigh-voltage electrified fences?
Not to be overlooked is the human indignity that these spikes symbolize. It is one thing to put out a wire to keep pigeons from landing and defacing a building, but these are people. If the homeless are causing your business problems, do something to help them, not shoo them away like vermin.
While there are a few solutions to this problem should it arise again, including quick-dry cement poured over the spikes to neutralize their effectiveness, or an ability to meditate like a Fakir on a bed of nails, the mayor seems adamant in his quest to keep these things off city streets. Assuming these establishments don’t turn to the use of the medieval mace, we can all thank the mayor for his rapid intervention. Now if only he could do something about those potholes …