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Montreal's village organization hopes for an LGBTQ2S+ community complex

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It's a dream in the making for Montreal's Village residents for over 40 years: a complex that brings together community organizations, LGBTQ2S+ people and locals under one roof.

Espace LGBTQ+ was able to acquire a large vacant commercial building in Ste. buy. Catherine Street East last fall with help from the City of Montreal, provincial grants and private donors.

“The LGBTQ complex that we have and want to share comes from connecting with different organizations and thinking, intersectionality and thinking about the different needs in the community and the village,” said Desiree Duchesne, vice president of Espace LGBTQ+.

However, the space needs a lot of love and money.

“One of the main reasons we're asking for money is to provide an accessible elevator and accessible restrooms for the community, not just a portion of it, but for all,” Duchesne said.

The group applied for funding from the Federal Ministry of Infrastructure in February 2023 and hopes to receive $7 million for the renovation of the 2,000 square meter building.

Although the project is currently in its early stages, it is already well received by some community members.

“There are a lot of restaurants and bars around, so it would be a good change, and I think it's a good place for people to come together,” said Joseph Suarez, who works in the Village.

“I feel like there are a lot of issues right now of gentrification and also loneliness, and I think this could solve or at least combat those issues,” Village resident Rich Ly said.

Espace LGBTQ+ is also supported by its partners.

Simon Gamache, executive director of Pride Montreal, said the complex will also help community groups financially.

“We need these dedicated buildings for community organizations with reasonable rents,” he said. “And that’s exactly what could be accomplished in this building.”

CTV News has reached out to Canada's Ministry of Infrastructure for comment but has not received a response.

Espace LGBTQ+ doesn't know if it will receive funding, but is working hard to make the space a reality.

“We cannot give up on this dream,” said Kenny Bolduc, LGBTQ+ strategic advisor at Espace. “We won’t, and we need money to fully realize that dream, and this program is designed to do that.”