January 3, 2019 7:37 pm
Updated: January 3, 2019 8:11 pm

Making way for a new cemetery in Vaudreuil-Dorion

WATCH: Montreal's Muslim community is one step closer to getting a new cemetery. Plans are underway for a new burial ground to be built on farm land in Vaudreuil-Dorion. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, the final hurdle is having the land re-zoned.

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After searching for several years, Montreal-area Muslims could finally have a new spot to bury their dead.

It’s a vacant lot next to the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Catholic cemetery on Rang St-Antoine, just south of Highway 20 in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

“It’s 4.5 acres,” Mayor Guy Pilon tells Global News.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste officials even granted the community permission to use part of their cemetery.

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“They said no problem,” says Pilon, “and that it would be a good sign about the goodwill of the [Catholic] community.”

READ MORE: Quebec City accepts Muslim community’s bid for land to build cemetery

Leaders in the Muslim community say they need the space badly because there aren’t enough Islamic cemeteries in the province and the group’s population is growing.

“Well, there are five,” explains Mehmet Deger, president of the Dorval Mosque, who helped to find the property.  “There are two in the Montreal area.  But they are all filled up.”

He estimates that there are about 3,000 Muslims in the Vaudreuil area and that the population really began growing just under a decade ago.

Part of the proposed site is zoned for agricultural use but Pilon thinks the planners for the cemetery might have an advantage.  He says three regional county officials looked at the land and came to one conclusion, mainly because of a slope on the land.

READ MORE: Quebec City residents reject Muslim cemetery

“[The land] cannot be cultivated anyway,” he explains.  “It’s never been and never will be cultivated.

“It’s also good because it’s right beside the Christian cemetery.”

Some residents wondered why space was made available for the cemetery even though there are problems finding space to build a hospital.  The site for the future Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital is still up in the air, partly because its proposed site was also slated for agricultural use.

But Pilon says the two cases are very different. First, the land for the cemetery is unsuitable for agriculture, and second, there’s a question of size.

“The original site for hospital is 25 acres. This one is four acres.”

Now the planners are waiting for a zoning change.  They expect that the cemetery will be available to families by 2020.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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