Projet Montréal wants public consultation on zoning of houses of worship

As Outremont debates banning new houses of worship from two main arteries, Montreal's official opposition is calling for a city-wide public consultation on the zoning of religious buildings.

Clear rules would ease integration of religious faiths into neighbourhoods, opposition says

The borough of Outremont is considering a ban on houses of worship on Bernard and Laurier avenues.

As the borough of Outremont debates banning new houses of worship from two main arteries, Montreal's official opposition is calling for a city-wide public consultation on the zoning of religious buildings.

"Religious communities have the right to settle in all boroughs, and in no case should that right be limited," said Projet Montréal leader Luc Ferrandez in a news release.

Ferrandez said a public consultation would look into how to better integrate places of worship in neighbourhoods, in order "to encourage a healthy cohabitation of different beliefs and faiths."

The opposition is also accusing Mayor Denis Coderre of inaction on the issue that Ferrandez said is "indirectly raising tensions" in boroughs such as Outremont, quashing a Projet Montréal motion for a public consultation last spring.

Since then, tense debates on the issue have bubbled up in a few boroughs, including the Southwest borough, Ahuntsic-Cartierville and Villeray–St-Michel–Parc-Extension.

New synagogues to be 'ghettoized': Pollak

Outremont held a public consultation earlier this week on a proposed bylaw to ban any new places of worship on two main arteries, Bernard and Laurier avenues – just a few months after approving a request for a new synagogue on Bernard Ave.

The move has sparked anger from the Outremont's large Hasidic community, which says its members feel new synagogues are being pushed into an isolated "ghetto" near the railway line.

"Is ghettoizing a place of worship really something we want to do in 2015 in Montreal?" Projet Montréal borough councillor Mindy Pollak asked in an interview with CBC News earlier this week.

"We need a general city-wide discussion on this issue," said Pollak, who is the first Hasidic woman to be elected to municipal office in Canada, in Friday's news release.

"Mayor Coderre may talk the talk, but the issues won't be solved by slogans and press conferences. And these issues come up daily in our boroughs."


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