LaSalle—Residents at the Seigneurie des Rapides (760 Gamelin) who are planning a corn roast on Saturday, September 3, have been frustrated by unnecessary road blocks they feel are coming from the Office municipal d’habitation de Montreal (OMHM).
Last week, Esther Giroux, OMHM director of social and community development, told event organizer Serge Gagné that he couldn’t have access to any of three common fridges in the building until their representative, Patrick Benjamin, gets back from vacation on September 5, two days after the barbecue is scheduled. Another resident called Montreal’s ombudsman to complain, but was told that the ombudsman’s office doesn’t act until 20 days after a complaint is lodged, long after their help would be needed in this case.
Gagné had already obtained a $5 liquor permit for the activity as Giroux requested in a letter dated August 12, which was delivered to him August 19. “No other group has ever needed a permit for these kinds of events” says Gagné, who believes that his petition to re-establish a residents’ association in the building is the reason for difficult relations with OMHM personnel. “They don’t want us to succeed in making tenants happy.”
When the Suburban called the OMHM communications office to ask why the tenants couldn’t get access to the fridges for their barbecue, Louise Hebert assured us that the problem could be rectified. “We didn’t understand that the two rooms M. Gagné wanted opened contained three fridges, napkins, decorations and other material that they would need for the corn roast,” said spokesperson Louise Hebert. “Once we found out that that was why they needed the space, of course we made arrangements for the rooms to be opened.”
She suggested that Gagné call Giroux Monday, which he did. “We will have access to the tenants’ association equipment on Wednesday,” said Gagné. “I don’t understand why we can’t use the stuff anyway, since it belongs to the tenant association, but we’ll deal with that after the barbecue.”
The fridge refusal wasn’t their first frustration. When residents first began organizing the event, they said that Patrick Benjamin told them not to count on community contributions for their event because he had personally called local businesses to ask them not to support it. The Suburban called a few business owners to see if this was true. So far, only Jocelyne Long, from the IGA on Champlain (Marché d’alimentation Beck inc. ) has returned calls. “Why wouldn’t we support them,” said Long. “A gift certificate for $50 is already prepared.”
(This article appeared on p7 of the city edition of the Suburban yesterday.)