Plateau residents to vote on synagogue plans

A synagogue in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood is facing strong opposition to its plans to expand.

Residents filed complaints with borough over traffic concerns

The Gate David Hasidic congregation is facing opposition within the community after releasing its plans to renovate and expand. (CBC)

A synagogue in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood is facing strong opposition to its plans to expand.

The Gate David Hasidic congregation wants to update its aging facility, but its plans will have to face a community referendum because of concerns raised by residents.

Some in the community have raised concerns that a bigger synagogue could lead to more traffic, and enough complaints have been lodged with the Plateau Mont-Royal borough to force a vote in two weeks.

To gain some public support, Gate David Hasidic is holding an open house this Sunday.

The synagogue has old, tiny bathrooms, a dirty unused balcony and a cloakroom so small, people hang up their coats in a prayer room instead.

Too much traffic: blogger

Pierre Lacerte runs a blog called Outremont Accommodations and has been critical of what he sees as bylaw violations by neighbourhood synagogues. He says although renovations are acceptable, expansion is not.

"If they want to renovate it, we'll be very glad of it … but not [if they plan] to increase the size of it,"  Lacerte said.

A synagogue spokesperson Rifka Hanfling said neighbours needn't be concerned.

"Most of us live within the neighbourhood, and walk to the synagogue," Hanfling said. "But even so, the ones that would be coming by car, it's basically, like you know, you're going to your job nine to five, you're bringing your car, you're parking, and then you're taking it away."

The borough says Gate David has already made compromises.

"When this project was first introduced, it was a much bigger scale renovation project," said Plateau Mont-Royal Coun. Alex Norris. "It was scaled down once, under the previous Plateau administration, and when the issue came to us, we scaled it back further."