The Open Door/La Porte ouverte Montreal has recently moved to Notre-Dame de la Salette church in the Plateau Mont-Royal. The organization was forced to move last December because of the closure of St. Stephen Anglican church in Westmount.
The organization’s director, David Chapman, admits that the new space does not have the same feel as the former location, but the space if very functional. “It is not as serene as before, but we have improvements here and some new things, like showers, a soap stone workshop and a nursing station”, he says.
The move required an investment of close to $700,000. “We are still fundraising. We still need to raise $80,000.” Says The Open Door Montreal director.
Before finding Notre-Dame de la Salette Church, The Open Door Montreal searched actively for a building in the original neighbourhood, but without success. “We quickly saw that most of the property owners supported the organization’s mission, but preferred not to get involved.” Mr. Chapman laments.
Opposition and petitions
Atelier Habitation Montréal lent a helping hand to The Open Door Montreal to find the new location. The Plateau Mont-Royal borough and the Milton Park Residents’ Association also collaborated toward making the move social acceptable.
Regarding the faithful who attend Notre-Dame de la Salette, nearly 85% of them were in favour of The Open Door Montreal move. “We tried to find landlords from our church. We encountered opposition from some people who went to see merchants and mounted a petition to stop the project. But it never went all the way to Msgr. Lépine, who was in favour », says François Paradis, warden at Notre Dame de la Salette.
“We even had a counter petition from people living in neighbourhood co-ops! It was a lovely initiative. I was very touched, more so because they are not people who come to this church. (…) At the same time, the universal Church teaches us to help the poor. For our community, closing our doors to The Open Door was inconceivable. We saw this opportunity as a gift. We are adapting well”, he adds.
A committee will be formed in the upcoming weeks, to work toward a close collaboration between the Notre-Dame de la Salette church community and The Open Door Montreal.
Every day of the week, The Open Door Montreal welcomes nearly 125 people in need, 40% of whom are Inuit. There is also a housing and reintegration program dedicated to Inuit people, with the services of a social worker.
Open Door Montreal numbers for 2018
47 people are off the streets/ with housing
41 people followed a detox program
20 indigenous people received plane tickets to return to their respective Northern-Quebec communities