Religious freedoms took (what some may call a hit) in Outremont yesterday. After a vote was held between Outremont's borough council yesterday, a new zoning bylaw was passed that will ban new places of worship being constructed in the borough, save for one area.
The new bylaw, which passed with a 4-1 vote, will force any new churches, synagogues, mosques, or any other place of worship to be built solely in the Van Horne area of Outremont close to the train tracks, removed from high-profile commercial streets like Bernard and Laurier, reports CTV.
Improving the borough's economy is at the core of the bylaw, not the restriction of religious freedoms, as borough leaders supporting the bylaw explained, believing the zoning restriction will "support businesses in the area and create a public secular space."
Outremont's mayor Mari Cinq-Mars is "sorry" that the zoning restriction is being misunderstood as an attack against organized religion, stating "that wasn't my purpose."
Still, it's kind of hard not to see a bylaw specifically targeting places of worship/religious communities that way, and so the zoning restriction has received a fair amount of criticism and backlash.
Citizens against the decision believe the bylaw will divide the communities of Outremont and force "religious people into a ghetto."
The large Hasidic Jewish population who live in Outremont find the bylaw inherently discriminatory, as does Projet Montreal, adding that religious groups have "the right to establish themselves wherever they wish" and the zoning restriction shouldn't be decided by a borough, but rather by the entire city.
But the bylaw may not last long. With an adequate amount of signatures, a petition filed to the borough may be able to catalyze a referendum. Also, according to CTV, a constitutional lawyer told Outremont's leaders that, if the bylaw should pass, "the borough will be seeing a challenge to it in court."