• John Jantak

Mayor Hawa requests adequate police presence in Ste. Anne’s


Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue has erected temporary fencing along the length of its popular boardwalk to prevent people from congregating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue municipal council adopted a resolution at its monthly meeting May 11 calling on the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) at Station 1 to provide the adequate level of service required to enforce social distancing rules during the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I would love them to give me the services I pay for,” Hawa told The Journal during a telephone interview May 12. “It’s as simple as that. I’m not asking for special treatment, extra hours of service or more police. Our city every year hands over $2.1 million to the SPVM and I expect to get at least $2.1 million worth of service.”

The mayor is concerned that the eventual arrival of warmer weather which is expected to draw large crowds of people to the village could make it more difficult for people to safely practice social distancing.

“Especially for a village like Ste. Anne’s where, understandably, when the days are nice and warm many people flock to it. It’s a magnet. We need help in enforcing distancing rules. Most people do follow them but you always get that little minority that messes it up for the majority. We need these rules enforced,” said Hawa.

A recent warm spell in mid-April brought out a lot of people, especially to the boardwalk, to the point where the city had to erect a barrier to prevent access.

“The first thing we did was put tape to close off the boardwalk but people were going over it, under it or removing it so we made the measures more permanent,” said Hawa. “Instead, we put in a six-foot fence which is to dissuade people from coming. Our boardwalk is the main attraction, but they’re still coming. We need boots on the ground to remind people to stay two metres away from each other.”

The SPVM are also needed to enforce provincial Highway Code infractions being committed by cyclists, said Hawa. “Everybody on a bike thinks they’re in the Tour de France. It’s supposed to be single file but people are riding two or three aside and blowing stop signs,” she said.

Although the city has repeatedly asked the SPVM’s neighbourhood police station (PDQ-1) to enforce social distancing directives, its requests have gone unanswered. Unlike the city’s municipal patrol, the SPVM is the only organization with the necessary authority to act and issue fines for social distancing infractions.

“No municipal patrol anywhere on the Island of Montreal has the authority or jurisdiction to issue fines,” she said. “This is the exclusive jurisdiction of the SPVM.”

According to information obtained by the city, the majority of police officers are being deployed in the City of Montreal and its boroughs, particularly in Lafontaine, Mount Royal and Jean-Drapeau Parks and are unable to enforce physical distancing measures in demerged cities.

“The residents of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue are not second-class citizens,” said Hawa. “The Montreal agglomeration council has a moral duty to provide public security services that are fair to all citizens of the agglomeration. This double standard can no longer be tolerated. We pay more than our share for security services and have the right to insist that the SPVM be present in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.”

SPVM Station 1 did not respond to The Journal’s request for comment.

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