MONTREAL - Francois Gendron learned the hard way that it’s against the law to sit on the grass in a public park in the downtown Ville Marie borough.
On Monday he sat beneath a tree in Serge Garant Park behind the Beaudry metro and the act earned him a $147 fine.
Police initially approached him and asked him politely to move.
“They told me we do not have the right to sit on the grass in Montreal parks,” he said. “I accepted to move but 10 minutes later the police left so I returned because I wasn’t comfortable in the sunshine."
Officers saw him and slapped Gendron with a a ticket for $100 plus $47 in fees under borough bylaw RRVM c. P-3.
Police told Gendron that they give tickets to young homeless people, so to be fair they have to ticket everyone
“I think that’s very poor judgment,” said Gendron, who promised to challenge the fine.
The local police commander explained that the grass was recently replanted and that sitting on it has proven damaging.
“We're just advising the people not to stay on the grass and just to sit down on the cement border,” said Vincent Richer Commander of Station 22.
Police always warn people to stay off the grass and most simply comply, he noted.
One pair of neighbours said that area is often a haven for drug dealers and others who disturb the peace.
“Just by the smell you can see that there are people doing all kinds of things, like pissing or fighting at night,” said one man who lives nearby.
CTV Montreal interviewed several other local youth who said that they frequently receive tickets for minor offenses such as spitting on the ground or flicking cigarette ashes.
One 17-year-old former homeless youth said that he had received 30 tickets in two weeks and owes over $2,000 in fines, which he cannot pay.
Another woman, 26, said she was homeless and pregnant and a frequent target for tickets. “The last ticket I got was for $356 for spitting on the ground. I’m not able to pay for that, I’m barely able to feed myself,” she said.