Monday, November 21, 2016

Outremont residents vote to uphold bylaw banning places of worship 

On Sunday, Outremont residents flocked to a voting booth to decide whether or not to overturn a controversial bylaw.

The current law bans new places of worship on Bernard Ave., regardless of religion.

The final results of the vote saw 1,561 people vote in favor to uphold the law and 1,202 voted against the law.

The vote had a 60 percent turnout.

But the borough’s growing Hasidic Jewish community insist they feel targeted.

They represent roughly a quarter of Outremont’s population and they believe the ban is flat out racist.

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Alex Werzberger, president of the Coalition of Outremont Hasidic Organizations told Global News on Thursday.

However, the borough has said the reason of the bylaw is to support economic development.

They decided to pass the new regulation last year, banning all new religious temples on both Laurier and Bernard avenues.

READ MORE: Outremont passes zoning bylaw that bans new places of worship

Bernard avenue in particular is a street filled with residential buildings, cafes, restaurants and shops.

So some residents say they don’t think places of worship mix well there.

“It’s not a cultural or religious thing,” said Outremont resident Jean-Yves Chartrand.

“It’s urban and commercial.”

But members of the Hasidic community say that argument doesn’t hold water.

They say, it’s simply a turf war.

“I just think that they’re taking too much space,” said resident Andre Gibeau.

“And we ain’t going anywhere.”


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