If you passed through Bonaventure metro station on Wednesday, you might've noticed that the benches that run alongside the entrance corridor were covered with wooden planks.
Benoit Langevin, Critic for Homelessness and Youth for the official opposition on city council, took to Twitter to expose the covered benches, which are usually a popular congregating spot for unhoused Montrealers.
The station remains accessible to people experiencing homelessness.
"The Plante [administration] allows the [STM] to implement measures to ensure social distancing where homeless people come to warm up at the Bonaventure metro on a daily basis," the city councillor wrote.
Describing the boards as "hostile architecture" and "anti-homeless," Langevin asked why such measures aren't in place elsewhere in the metro.
L’admin Plante permet que la @stminfo mettent en place des mesures pour s’assurer d’une distanciation sociale où le… https://t.co/DC4FWYkNuC— Benoit Langevin (@Benoit Langevin) 1613598151.0
Responding on Wednesday evening, the STM said that the installation of wooden planks is "designed to ensure smooth and sanitary traffic flow in a corridor where many people pass each other, even during the pandemic."
The transit company insisted that the measure is "temporary" and "is not applied in less busy areas of the station."
A 2019 New York Times article said that so-called "hostile architecture" increasingly appears in major cities to "maintain order, ensure safety and curb unwanted behavior such as loitering, sleeping or skateboarding."
2/2 Cette mesure est temporaire et n’est pas appliquée dans des zones moins achalandées de la station où des person… https://t.co/kQVYMSH0AQ— STM (@STM) 1613608194.0
Critics, however, claimed that these measures "disproportionately target vulnerable populations," the New York Times wrote.
In July 2020, the City of Montreal removed an "anti-homeless" bench after backlash.