Montreal, May 18, 2022 — Dans la rue is breaking new ground, with the first vehicle in Montreal to run entirely on renewable natural gas (RNG). Powered by the ALDO Group, Énergir and the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, and backed by the support of numerous partners, this new and greener iteration of the Van will generate a smaller carbon footprint as it does its rounds in the central neighbourhoods of the city, lending a helping hand to those who are struggling. Since 1988, this service has been providing food, basic necessities and an attentive ear to homeless youth and other vulnerable individuals, five nights a week.

The now-iconic Van is a symbol of the love that Dans la rue’s founder, Father Emmett “Pops” Johns (1928–2018), had for the youth he was determined to help. It plays a major role in reaching out to people in unstable living conditions. Staffed by volunteers who are there to listen and support youth, and refer them to the appropriate resources, the Van will continue to address the social issue of homelessness with this new low-emission vehicle that will contribute to the 2030 decarbonization targets for the transportation sector — something that has earned the organization a 2022 Novae Award.

“This mobile outreach service is where many young people hear about what we do for the first time,” said Dans la rue Executive Director Cécile Arbaud. “After 34 years, we are proud to continue to carry out our mission to help some of our most disadvantaged local communities while doing our part for the environment.”

The new Van

To mark the official launch of the new Van, presented by CN and Sun Life, and emceed by Jean-Marie Lapointe, Dans la rue also raised $200,000 to help homeless youth, prevent them from becoming entrenched in street life and offer them a better future. Place Emmett-Johns, inaugurated in 2019 by the City of Montreal to honour Pops’ memory and pay tribute to this legendary Montrealer, was the ideal location for celebrating the new vehicle.

“CN considers it very important to support youth at risk of homelessness so they can achieve their full potential,” said Bernd Beyer, Vice-President and Treasurer, CN, and member of the Dans la rue Board of Directors. “After two years of the pandemic, I’m pleased to be here with the whole Dans la rue team to celebrate the new Van, which embraces environmental values.”

“We all have a role to play in helping youth who are experiencing homelessness and social isolation,” said Robert Dumas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sun Life Quebec, and member of the Dans la rue Board of Directors. “Our participation in the launch of the new Van is a humble contribution to what Pops created. He started with nothing and worked hard to make his dream come true. Dans la rue is now an essential community service in building a healthy and sustainable future.”

Highlights of the new Van

Partners for the new Van :

The new vehicle could not have been acquired and converted without the support of a generous group of partners. The ALDO Group contributed to the initiative by hosting the ALDO Group Purpose Ride in 2019, with the help of its employees, several of whom also volunteer on the Van. The cycling challenge raised over $100,000. The input of Énergir has been vital in making this the first vehicle in the city to be powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) and upgrading several of its features, thanks to the support of a number of suppliers. The Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, a partner of Dans la rue from the beginning, has earmarked $50,000 a year for five years to help cover the operating costs of the Van, in addition to donations made toward the purchase of hygiene products for youth. A plaque inside the vehicle acknowledges the contribution of other donors as well.

Renewable natural gas :

RNG is produced when organic waste from domestic, farm and industrial sources is broken down. This waste can include table scraps, food processing residues, manure, slurry and sludge from sewage treatment plants. It is a fully renewable energy source that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in two ways: 1) by replacing fossil fuels and 2) by avoiding methane emissions that are generated when organic waste is landfilled.

Schema Biomethanisation_

The Van’s enhanced features :

  • Runs on renewable natural gas
  • Hydraulic generator
  • New custom-designed interior with enhanced seats, more user-friendly serving windows and new equipment (steam cooker, sandwich press, microwave oven, heating and air-conditioning system, storage components)
  • More room to greet and serve youth

Impact of the Van :

  • The 6th vehicle in 34 years to travel through the streets of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Plateau Mont-Royal, Centre-Sud and downtown neighbourhoods to reach out to homeless youth and other vulnerable individuals
  • More than 18,750 servings of hot dogs every year, including a vegetarian option, to an average 110 people every night
  • Over 160 volunteers and 3,000 volunteer hours per year

Every year at Dans la rue :

  • More than 1,000 separate individuals, aged 12 to 25, who benefit from our services
  • More than 10,000 visits to the Day Centre and close to 1,500 overnight stays at the Bunker
  • 23,000 loyal donors and 75 employees

About Dans la rue

Founded in 1988 by Father Emmett “Pops” Johns (1928–2018), Dans la rue is committed to helping homeless and at-risk youth. With dedication, empathy and respect, and with the support of the community, Dans la rue cares for their immediate needs and helps them acquire the skills and resources needed to lead more autonomous and rewarding lives through five services: the Van, the Bunker emergency shelter, the Day Centre, Family Services and Dans la rue Housing.

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