PLACES OR WORSHIP IN MONTREAL: CRARR SUPPORTS THE CALL FOR A PUBLIC CONSULTATION AND A COHERENT APPROACH
Montreal, December 4, 2015 — CRARR supports the demand by municipal councillors of the City of Montreal for a public consultation on the rules on zoning of places of worship in Montreal.
In the last several weeks, the zoning by-law proposed by the borough of Outremont has created controversy and social tensions because of its objective to confine new places of worship to an isolated sector in the borough, close to railroad tracks. This proposal, which seeks to ban places of worship from commercial arteries, is not supported by any economic or social impact study in the affected zones and communities. Moreover, the proposal does not have a clear definition of what constitutes a “place of worship” or “religious activities”.
CRARR is concerned by the fact that the issue of regulating places of worship has already been raised in several boroughs without any vision of global framework on the subject. This question is all the more important given that is raises questions of inter community relations and social cohesion, as well as questions of fundamental rights and liberties protected by the Quebec and Canadian Charters. These rights cannot be ignored in the name of “living together.”
For these reasons, CRARR advocates for a public consultation, ideally led by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, accompanied by rigorous and objective legal, economic, and social studies. Only such an approach will ensure inclusive urban planning which celebrates the cultural diversity of Montreal and the protection of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.
It should also be remembered that Montréal has formally committed to non-discriminatory actions by joining the Canadian Coalition of municipalities against Racism and Discrimination, and by signing last June, the Montreal Declaration on Living Together, following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“We need to have a policy and vision, based on the rule of law and principles and traditions of equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as further supporting objective social and economic studies”, explained Fo Niemi, CRARR Executive Director.
“Collectively, we must ensure that all government action concerning the zoning for places of worship lead to integration, social cohesion and the full development of communities and neighborhoods and not discrimination and the marginalisation of any one group of our fellow citizens” concluded Niemi.