Purim problems in Outremont?
B'nai Brith is calling for cooler heads to prevail in Outremont where council has voted to reject an exemption to a controversial bus bylaw that may put a damper on Purim celebrations this weekend in the borough's Hassidic community.
Supporters of the exemption say they want to avoid a repeat of a confrontation last year between members of the Hassidic community and borough councillor Céline Forget who was trying to enforce the bylaw that bans double-axle buses including the smaller buses used to transport children in the neighbourhood during the celebrations.
National legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada Steven Slimovitch said the intent of the law was to bar large intercity buses.
"Smaller type buses, that would be quite reasonable in restricted amount of periods, over a two day holiday period. I think everybody can get along, I think everybody can agree, and I think there's room to manoevre in this kind of situation," Slimovitch said.
Slimovitch said encouraging the use of more mini-vans would mean more traffic and possibly be more dangerous.
In an email to CJAD 800 News, Forget said the bylaw allows minibuses but not buses and it applies to everyone.
"The handicapped buses have an exemption in the bylaw and they go through the streets of Outremont all the time. Nobody says anything about those," said Mindy Pollak, member of the Hassidic community and co-founder of the Friends of Hutchison, a group aimed at promoting awareness and cooperation in the neighbourhood.
"I don't see why one day out of the year the Jewish community should not be able to use the buses. It's not because we want to flout the bylaw, that's why we're trying to find a solution. We're trying to avoid that."