News  City halts Occupy Montreal expansion

Occupiers plan for the coming winter

With Occupy Montreal almost two weeks old, occupiers in the growing tent city are running out of room.

Earlier this week, an attempt to expand the encampment into Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, a public square two blocks away, was met with opposition from the City of Montreal.

“We asked City Hall on Monday night, and again on Tuesday morning, but they said we couldn’t camp there,” said occupier Laurent Goncourt in French.

Gonzalo Nunez, a public relations officer for the City, told The Daily on Wednesday that the City’s decision was for public safety reasons. “Our emergency services have to be able to intervene in an emergency situation, so we’ve asked the protesters to stay on one site,” he explained.

Although occupiers were in Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle earlier this week, they have since left. The occupation is currently contained to Square Victoria, which was renamed La Place du Peuple on the first day of the occupation.

Stéphan B., an occupier working in the communications tent, explained to The Daily in French that, for the time being, there is enough space in Square Victoria.

“But, in the future,” he said, “I don’t know what will happen.”

Occupiers are also discussing ideas for continuing the occupation into the winter.

“When it gets cold, people will start to leave if they’re not comfortable,” said Goncourt.

A yurt – a circular, portable, wood-framed shelter – was erected this week, and social activist Mostafa Hennaway has proposed that people move into empty floors in the adjacent Bourse de Montréal building as the weather gets colder.

Most occupiers seem willing to stay within the law to sustain the occupation.

“From my understanding, we’re trying to do a legal occupation,” said Tara, a volunteer at the information tent. “In New York City, they’re not even allowed to camp. This is the Rolls Royce of occupations.”