Old Brewery Mission opens residential complex in Montreal's Lachine district


The Old Brewery Mission has big plans for a building in Montreal's Lachine district.

“There will be 18 units of modest studios and apartments,” said CEO James Hughes.

The Old Brewery Mission purchased the building a year ago with funds from the Tenaquip Foundation.

People who want to live in the west end of the city and need accommodation can live in the fully serviced building, Hughes explained. These are often people who have been homeless for many years, but still have staff available to help them get back on their feet, he said.

There are people all over the island of Montreal who are homeless, and “right now we have a housing crisis,” Hughes said. There's just not enough affordable housing, he said, and shelters like the Old Brewery – both the men's and women's facilities – are full.

“We need a lot more projects than this,” said Hughes, estimating that about 4,000 people are homeless in Montreal. “That's a lot of housing that we don't have right now.”

Hughes said it was actually the Tenaquip Foundation that approached the mission with this proposal. After a search, the property was found. It is a double lot on which the housing project will be built.

This project is in line with the Old Brewery Mission's new approach to homelessness prevention and rehousing, the homeless shelter said in a statement. Such projects minimize the time people spend in emergency accommodation and increase their chances of getting off the streets for good, it said.

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The Lachine municipal council pre-approved the initiative on Monday evening and will now launch public consultations on a project that Mayor Maja Vodanovic says the area desperately needs.

Vodanovic said homeless organizations and citizens have asked the local council to help those in need. She called this project “a gift” for the community.

Located in the eastern part of Lachine, an area already undergoing major redevelopment, the property is close to LaSalle Park and the Promenade du Rail, offering residents access to green spaces.

Located on the corner of William-MacDonald Street and 6th Avenue, it will include 13 studios and five larger units, as well as common areas and an office for the Old Brewery Mission staff, who will provide residents with tailored assistance and psychosocial support.

Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of this year and completion is planned for summer 2024.

Although homelessness is increasing in the county, there is minimal support available, Vodanovic said. The county has tried to raise funds and invest in necessary infrastructure, but it is challenging, she said.

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“That's why we are so happy that private funds came to our aid here,” said Vodanovic. “I would like to thank Tenaquip.”

Tenaquip is a national distributor of industrial and occupational health and safety products, and the company's foundation has a long-standing partnership with the Old Brewery.

Michael Fitzgerald, executive director of the Tenaquip Foundation, said in the press release that this project “brings us one step closer to ending homelessness, and we feel great about being a part of it.”