Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
The building where will be located the synagogue is located on Bernard avenue, at the intersection of the avenue Champagneur.
Despite the rules and regulations adopted in 2016 prohibiting new places of worship on the avenue Bernard, Outremont borough intends to grant a permit for the construction of a synagogue on this street. The mayor, Philipe Tomlinson, has justified the decision of his administration, arguing that the district risked losing a court battle against the owner of the building.
The elect were to decide Monday night on an agreement between Place Bernard, a company controlled by Michael Rosenberg, and the borough of Outremont. Under this agreement, the district agrees to issue a permit to Place Bernard, the owner of the building located at 1250-1270, Bernard avenue, for his synagogue.
However, in November 2016, a majority of citizens had voted by referendum for a zoning regulation prohibiting new places of worship on Bernard avenue. In the room of the borough council Monday night, citizens have loudly reacted when the mayor, Philipe Tomlinson, has explained why his administration had to allow this new synagogue.
When the referendum was held in the fall of 2016, the owner already holds a certificate of occupancy for the establishment of a mikveh, a jewish ritual bath, was recalled by Mr. Tomlinson. On the evening of April 4, 2016, the district has submitted a notice of motion to amend the zoning bylaw and prohibit new places of worship on the commercial streets. However, a few hours before, Place Bernard has filed an application for a permit to expand the place of worship and build a synagogue on two floors. The referendum occurred several months later.
“This means that the regulation approved by referendum has no effect on this issue,” said Mr Tomlinson. His words were met with discontent by citizens who came to attend the meeting.
“A gun to the temple “
In a first time, the City had refused to grant a permit for the synagogue. Place Bernard is then sent to the courts to compel the district to issue him a permit. In his application filed in court, the company has also claimed the refund in the amount of $ 180,000 for loss of leasehold, which she considered to have incurred, as well as $ 50,000 in punitive damages.
“We hope to approve this agreement in order to avoid the risks and hazards involved in holding a trial scheduled from 19 to 21 February,” said Mr Tomlinson, who estimated that more than $ 300,000 to the compensation that the City should pay in the event of defeat in court.
The legal affairs Department of the City considered it more prudent to enter into an agreement with Bernard. The permit for the construction of the synagogue will be granted, but three local frontage on the Bernard avenue will be reserved for shops.
The advisor of the Whole Montreal, in the district of Robert-Bourassa, Jean-Marc Corbeil, had accused the mayor of having thrown in the towel. “We do not negotiate with a gun to their heads “, he said.
I don’t understand why you give in to the intimidation
— Marylise Lapierre
The representative of the opposition believes that the agreement reached between the two parties is illegal, because elected officials have never given a mandate to the Department of legal affairs to negotiate with Bernard. “The people voted in a referendum, and Mr. Tomlinson said he would respect the referendum results “, he says.
Mr. Corbeil also reported that the borough has obtained two legal opinions on this issue and they have proven to be contradictory. “In these cases, or we request a third opinion or go before the courts “, he said.
“I don’t understand why you give in to the intimidation,” said Marylise Lapierre, a woman came to challenge the elected officials in the beginning of the meeting. “Projet Montréal was elected by promising more democracy and transparency. You pretend to respect the will of the majority, ” she said.
“One wonders what has served this referendum. You don’t want a place of worship in this building “, said another citizen.
Pierre Lacerte said finding it hard to understand why the City was abandoned so quickly to defend themselves. He recalled having himself, as a citizen, conducted a legal battle against Michael Rosenberg : “I won and he lost. “
At the time of writing these lines, the vote at the borough council had not taken place, but the team of mayor Tomlinson is the majority.