Editorial: Boroughs Should Not Have Zoning Rules That Discriminate on Religious Grounds

January 20, 2004

Source: Montreal Gazette


On January 20, 2004 the Montreal Gazette ran an editorial that argued, "Public hearings resume this week into the fate of what must be Montreal's most unusual mosque. The Canadian Islamic Centre Al-Jamieh, in Dollard Des Ormeaux, is situated in what used to be the Adat Reim synagogue in 1998. The Jewish congregation sold the 20,000-square-foot facility to a Shia Muslim organization, which in turn sold it to Al-Jamieh in the fall of 2002. Ordinarily, this history would make such a building a symbol of inter-faith co-operation. Sadly, Dollard's shabby treatment of the mosque has made it a symbol of intolerance of Islamic religious expression. Dollard wants to force Al-Jamieh out of the building on Anselme Lavigne Blvd., and to that end enacted zoning rules in the fall of 2002 to make a house of worship in that location illegal. However, the zoning bylaw still needs rubber-stamping from the central city of Montreal, which has the power to refuse to issue certificates of conformity to any borough bylaw that doesn't conform to the island city's overall urban plan...The central issue here is clear. Boroughs should not have zoning rules that have the effect of permitting churches and synagogues to operate in residential neighbourhoods, but not houses of worships of other religions."