Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Purim busing dispute: a victory for Outremont's Hasidic community 

A dispute between the borough of Outremont and the local Hasidic community appears to have been resolved — at least for now.

Montreal's municipal court has cancelled a series of fines brought against bus drivers and vehicle rental companies for transporting children through the borough in a mini-bus during the Jewish holiday of Purim in 2014 and 2015.

Outremont's Bylaw 1171 bans the use of double-axle vehicles — including the mini-buses — on the borough's residential streets.

During the Purim holiday, children typically go door-to-door in costume, singing and collecting money.

On Monday, a municipal court judge dropped six fines handed to the bus drivers worth $245 each. The judge ruled there weren't enough clear signs throughout the borough advising motorists of the rules against the mini-buses.

Fo Niemi, the head of the anti-racism group CRARR, says what isn't clear, however, is whether the buses will be allowed to circulate in the borough during this year's Purim celebrations — which take place next month.

"We still have to discuss with Montreal police, because the police will be the authority that will enforce the bylaw," Niemi says. "Purim is coming up toward the end of March, children will have to be transported as part of their religious activities, and these mini-buses will again be used in order to transport them.

"We may have to start all over again, in terms of the battle against this unfair bylaw, and the discriminatory effects on these children."

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