No fines for Purim buses in Outremont

Changing the Outremont bus bylaw
WATCH ABOVE: Outremont's Jewish population is asking borough mayor Marie Cinq-Mars to modify or do-away with a bylaw that states buses cannot be used to transport children on residential streets. As Global's Navneet Pall reports, special events are exempted, but the Jewish festival of Purim is not one of them.

MONTREAL – Purim is one of the most festive holidays in the Jewish calendar, but over the past years there has been cause to worry.

A bylaw preventing mini-buses from driving young observers of the celebration in the borough of Outremont still stands.

In the past, police have issued tickets to bus drivers during Purim, leading to tensions within the community.

READ MORE: Outremont could hold a referendum on bylaw that bans new places of worship

This year, the police will not be issuing tickets to bus drivers.

Prior contested tickets have been withdrawn due to a technicality: the borough did not place enough traffic signs to warn bus drivers that they weren’t allowed on the residential streets.

“[Police] legal council advised them, since the bylaw is not applicable, it doesn’t make sense to go and harass a community,” said Mayer Feig, a vocal community member.
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“The prosecutor withdrew the tickets, so that means they shouldn’t have been issued in the first place,” said Outremont councillor Mindy Pollak.

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It’s a move in the right direction, but Feig wants to go one step further.

The bylaw still exists, but he believes it is discriminatory and wants it amended.

READ MORE: Hassidic Jews don’t have to pay tickets over Outremont’s bus bylaw

Feig has tried to reach out to borough mayor Marie Cinq-Mars, but he said all of his efforts so far have gotten him no where.

“At council, I asked the mayor to please sit down with the community and let’s work out a solution,” said Feig.

“Her answer was ‘you’re not going to dictate my agenda, you’re not going to tell me who to meet with. And that’s it.”

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Cinq-Mars was unavailable for comment.

READ MORE: Outremont bus bylaw challenged over religious holiday

The community said if the mayor doesn’t review the bylaw it may be ready to challenge it in court, according to Fo Niemi, the Executive Director of  Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, who has been advising the community.

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“The city should give it 30 to 60 days in order to decide what to do with the bylaw,” said Niemi.

“Otherwise, at every possible opportunity, any bylaw or action taken by the city that is seen as discriminatory, I think the community is ready to challenge it in court.”

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