More accessible trash cans
The meeting was at Place Émilie-Gamelin. School of Social Work professor Carolyne Grimard was my guide. Objective: identify inclusive areas and areas that are hostile to people experiencing homelessness. First stop: an ordinary trash can. Not so ordinary if you look closely. Carolyne draws our attention to new models of garbage cans that allow homeless people to have easy access to the contents and, therefore, to find things more easily when we want to find them. can for deposit. Must be thinking about it!
“We’re talking about a hostile space when it refers to exclusion or blocking access,” Carolyne Grimard explained to us. Let’s think about the seats where it is impossible to lie down or the public spaces without public toilets… Or under these stairs (see picture) where a homeless person can take shelter or sleep . » “Usually, bad installations come after a confrontation,” explains Sonia Blank, research manager of Architecture sans frontières Québec, whom I contacted by phone after my walk. We repeat many counter movements unconsciously because we always do things a certain way. Our research will seek, among other things, to raise the awareness of decision makers to do things differently. »
A hostile and repulsive fence
During our walk, Carolyne opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have seen on my own: filters and pieces of pipe on the sidewalk, signs of a smoking crack somewhere. It also draws my attention to missed opportunities. It’s like this abandoned land that we fenced off so people can’t get there. “We could have put up a temporary tent here, with services to bring the homeless closer. Or a chemical toilet. In winter, we can install benches with heat lamps. » One of the questions asked in the research project is the following: how to accommodate that it does not become permanent?
Mobile, flexible, welcoming
Metal containers are a very interesting urban planning tool. Used in the Quartier des spectacles during festivals (in the photo, we see that of Tourisme Montréal), these containers can be adapted for the homeless with toilets, showers and post office boxes. Their mobility makes them a super flexible tool. As Carolyne Grimard pointed out to me, “when a homeless person relieves himself on the street or in a public place, what we are told is that there is a lack of toilets. We need to understand that every irritant hides a need. And we need to think about areas of privacy without compromising security.”
Esplanade Tranquille, a model
“Places that are welcoming to people experiencing homelessness reduce stress,” Carolyne Grimard, who took us to Esplanade Tranquille, rue Sainte-Catherine, reminded me. It was hot that day. Two men dozed off on the chairs. Ahead, a mister sprinkles drops of cold water to beat the oppressive heat. “This place is amazing,” Carolyne enthused. We feel that everyone has their place there. And something unique, the common areas of the pavilion are open to everyone, as long as you don’t disturb the peace of the place. » This is a model of an inclusive place, according to Carolyne Grimard.
For a more human architecture
“Architecture slowly incorporates ideas of equity, social justice and CARING of its practices, Sonia Blank, of Architecture sans frontières Quebec, pointed out to me. The first part of our work is to list what already exists, then create a guide to raise the awareness of design and planning professionals. »
The research project, which will last three years, is in its second year. Let’s hope its conclusions reach the ears of elected municipal officials across Quebec.