Ban on new places of worship upheld in Montreal’s Outremont borough – Montreal – CBC News

The ongoing debates in Outrement between a conservative religious community and others:

Citizen groups on both sides had both produced flyers to make their case and turnout in advance polls last weekend was high.

The bylaw was introduced in 2015, not long after the borough approved a permit for a synagogue on Bernard.

Not long after, the borough decided to pass a law banning all new places of worship on two key arteries, Bernard Avenue and Laurier Avenue, with the aim of creating “winning conditions” for local businesses.

The Laurier ban wasn’t contested and the other major street, Van Horne Avenue, has had a similar ban since the late 1990s.

A vote in favour of the Bernard ban would therefore effectively block any new synagogues in the borough.

The business case

Several merchants have come out in favour of the ban, arguing another place of religious worship would hurt business.

Francine Brulée, co-owner of the Les Enfants Terribles, a high-end bistro on Bernard, said many people in the Hasidic community don’t frequent her restaurant or other businesses in the area.

“They do their own things and that’s OK,” she said. “But if there’s more and more and more, the other stores and the other restaurants will suffer, I think.”

However, Mindy Pollak, the first and only Hasidic Jew to be elected to city council, said the pro-business argument “just doesn’t hold water.”

She pointed to Parc Avenue, located just outside the Outremont borough boundary, where synagogues recently opened up on a “block that was completely abandoned and neglected before. So obviously, not bad for commercial use.”

Long history in Outremont

This isn’t the first time Outremont, which is home to a large and wealthy francophone population, has been the site of conflict with the Hasidic community.

In the past, the community has engaged in battles with Outremont council over the use of charter buses in residential streets and the placement of the eruv, the symbolic enclosure made of string used to carry items on the Sabbath.

In 2006, news that the neighbourhood YMCA had switched to frosted windows to obscure Hasidic students’ view of women in exercise wear spurred a debate over the reasonable accommodation of minorities which has never quite subsided.

Earlier this year, a Hasidic school near Outremont was raided by youth protection officials because of concern it was not following the provincial curriculum.

Louis Rousseau, a religious studies professor at University of Quebec in Montreal, said it will be difficult to find a solution that satisfies everyone.

“A referendum is supposed to be the democratic solution, but it’s clear not everyone will be happy with the result,” he said.

Source: Ban on new places of worship upheld in Montreal’s Outremont borough – Montreal – CBC News

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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