Residents rally to demand more action on gun violence in Laval

·3 min read
Residents say urgent actions need to be taken to respond to escalating gun violence in Laval. They held a protest outside the Raymond-Fortin community centre on Saturday.  (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)
Residents say urgent actions need to be taken to respond to escalating gun violence in Laval. They held a protest outside the Raymond-Fortin community centre on Saturday. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)

Residents and community organizations in Laval say urgent actions need to be taken to deal with the rise in gun violence this summer.

Many say they're feeling shaken after the shooting this Wednesday at a restaurant in the city's Vimont neighbourhood that led to the death of a 42-year-old man. Last month the city also saw three shootings within the span of three days.

"The kids are scared. They're scared to come out, they're scared to play, scared to do things," said Rodney Dorvelus, a community worker at the Bureau de consultation jeunesse, a community centre that focuses on strengthening young people's autonomy.

"They're scared about being at the wrong place at the wrong time," Dorvelus said. "I'm not only talking about kids, but young adults also."

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

Others worry parents might not feel as safe bringing their children to community centres in some areas. A few weeks ago gunshots were heard close to the Raymond-Fortin community centre, just down the street from an elementary school, Lucie Lanthier said.

"It's worrisome," said Lanthier, who works as the general manager with Loisirs Renaud-Coursol. The community centre operates out of the building and also runs a day camp.

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

"All of the shots that were fired here a couple of weeks ago, it was about 10 minutes before the bell rang at the elementary school," she said.

Josée Beaudet said she no longer feels safe in her neighborhood after hearing shots just footsteps away from her home.

"The shooting happened just in front of where I live," she said. "I'm not feeling secure. For me, for my daughter."

Saul Polo, the Liberal MNA Laval-des-Rapides, attended Saturday, and said the province has neglected to fund organizations in Laval that are working hard to keep youth out of trouble.

"This situation has not developed over the past few weeks and months. It has developed over the past two years," he said.

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

Last fall, Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault committed more than $90 million in funding to combat gun traffickers and curb a recent trend in gun violence in the province. It's a good first step, but policing only goes so far, Polo said.

"The government has announced a few sums of money supporting more police enforcement in our city and different cities across Quebec, but what we're also asking for is that each dollar invested in security is also invested into supporting our community groups that work with the youth, and that work specifically on prevention," Polo said.

The $90 million investment includes the creation of a Quebec-wide operation called CENTAURE, a coalition of the more than 20 police forces in the province. It was created with the hope of strengthening units around the province that are already investigating gun violence, and improving collaboration between police forces.

On Wednesday provincial police reported a recent investigation in the Montreal and south-shore area, including Delson, Saint-Amable, Longueuil, had led to the seizure of six handguns, two long guns and more than $50,000 in cash.

Four men, all 27, were arrested in connection with the seizure and appeared in Longueuil court on various firearm charges, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said.

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