Comedian Mike Ward says he wants to donate 25 insulated wooden tents to the city of Montreal to help house homeless people this winter, but the city refused, saying the problem lies elsewhere.
In a Facebook post addressed to Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, Ward said the shelters are heated with "the heat of the human body" and that a person can stay there comfortably in temperatures of up to -30 degrees c.
"These tiny houses are designed for people most at risk, those who refuse to sleep in shelters," he said. "Tiny houses are built and paid for. Give it a go, and I can have them installed within a week."
Two people experiencing homelessness have been found dead outside in the cold as Montreal faces harsh temperatures in the past few days.
According to Ward, he has made this offer to the city for a second year in a row. He did not provide details about the project.
Plante's office sent an email to commend Ward's willingness to help unhoused people, but declined the offer.
"The installation of tiny houses across the city is not an appropriate solution to help the most vulnerable," according to the mayor's cabinet.
"Homeless people need an entire ecosystem to support them. They not only need a roof, but also intervention workers and adapted services."
James Hughes, president and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, a Montreal organization that offers a variety of services to homeless people, said he was interested in the offer and found it generous.
"Montreal needs diverse and innovative solutions in the area of homelessness, which is rising in the city," he said.
"The Old Brewery Mission will therefore be happy to speak with Mr. Ward about his vision for the initiative, including its duration, location and support services (maintenance, food, psychosocial intervention, etc.) to see if it aligns with our direction," he added in an email.
In a response posted on Facebook, Plante said what is lacking isn't adapted shelters for all kinds of clientele but people to run the resources intended for those experiencing homelessness.
She invited people who would like to lend a hand to register on the provincial government's Je contribue platform.
Aref Salem, the leader of the Official Opposition at Montreal City Hall, said the fact that a benefactor like Ward reached out to the city to offer help twice in two years shows just how much of a problem homelessness has become in Montreal.
Salem said it also shows Plante should have done more.
"If the Plante administration had taken its responsibilities and had been in prevention mode rather than reactive as we have been asking it to do for several years, we would not have come to this," he said.