Friday, September 09, 2016

Referendum to be held on bylaw prohibiting houses of worship on Bernard Ave 

A referendum will be held after Outremont residents expressed anger at a recent bylaw that outlaws the construction of houses of worship on two main commercial streets.

The vote, which will be held before the end of the year, will determine whether the prohibition on mosques, synagogues, churches and other religious institutions on Bernard Ave. will continue.

On Thursday, a public registry was arranged to gather signatures. While the 367 signatures needed to trigger a referendum on the Bernard ban were gathered, the 176 needed to call for a repealing of the ban on Laurier Ave. was not reached, with only four people signing.

The anger over the bylaw is primarily being expressed by the borough's Hasidic Jewish community, with some calling it discriminatory. They said Jewish rules on using cars on the Sabbath means not having synagogues within walking distance makes it impossible to practice their religion.

"We do not use cars on the Sabbath, so it has to be within walking distance, not far away where you can travel by car," said one woman. "Therefore, it has to be within decent distance and if we can't make a place of worship for the people who want to use it, it's terrible."

In the past, borough officials have said the bylaw is meant to promote business on Laurier Ave. and Bernard Ave.

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