05/13/2013 10:09 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal community learning centres under threat of closure

The city’s six community education centres are asking the province to step in with additional funding to keep them open.

Based in low-income neighbourhoods, Montreal’s popular education centres (CEP) offer a range of classes to adults, particularly ones to promote literacy, computer skills and artistic expression.

But come 2015, they may be wiped out.

The six CSDM-owned buildings that house Montreal’s CEPs are in need of a collective $6 million in repairs.

The French-language school board said it can’t afford to continue funding CEPs, meaning that the free rent and the grants it currently extends to them will shortly run out.

The Pointe St-Charles education centre on its own is in need of nearly a half-million dollars in urgent repairs — ones that may need to be completed before the end of its lease in 2015.

On its Facebook page, the centre — which has been housed in the same CSDM property for 45 years — wrote that it fears a premature eviction due to the building’s dilapidated state.

Roger Leclair of InterCEP, the organization that groups Montreal’s popular education centres, said their absence will be felt by the communities they serve.

“We are working with marginalized people,” he said, adding that around 3,500 people benefit directly from CEPs.

“If we are disappearing, it is a catastrophe for these people and the neighbourhood.”

Leclair said CEPs are often the end of the line for its students, many of whom suffer from isolation, mental health issues and disabilities.

Denise Kinlough, 70, has been learning to read and write at the Pointe St-Charles centre.

She dropped out of school in Grade 4 and before starting to frequent the centre four years ago, she said she didn’t know how to write a cheque. Since then, she’s made great strides.

“I made two poems and I know how to go on the Internet,” Kinlough said.

“I know how to go to write to my daughters to my friend. It's very very nice and I love that.”