Residents want popular cut-rate grocery store to stay in St. Laurent

Photo: Sami Fruits Facebook Page

Residents of Saint-Laurent are circulating a petition to keep a cheap grocer in their borough but zoning restrictions are making that complicated.

Sami Fruits owner Taleb Al-Asmar says when he and his father opened their store on Jules-Poitras, an industrial street of Saint-Laurent, they knew the zoning rules but were told they wouldn’t cause problems.

“A city official met with my father and said go ahead open, we’ll change the zoning later,” Al-Asmar told CJAD.

The bylaw says businesses in industrial areas can use 15 percent of their building for retail sales.

“When they installed themselves on the territory they knew full well what the rules were, all were saying is in fairness please follow the rules,” Alan Desousa, the borough mayor said.

“I hope somebody at Sami Fruits realizes this is not the Wild West, other companies are good corporate citizens and respect the rules. I would hope their lawyers will say; hey guys get with it,” he continued.

But Taleb Al-Asmar says 2500 residents have signed a petition to keep them there, because they want produce at an affordable price.

“Health Canada even wrote a letter that I should be there because that area needs a fruits and vegetables place in walking distance because a lot of them are under the poverty line.”

Al-Asmar says his company also has a shuttle service that picks up elderly people in the area so they can shop at their location.

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  1. WILLinMTL posted on 05/02/2014 09:51 AM
    Why does the city want to deprive their citizens of affordable healthy food? Are they under pressure from IGA, Metro or maybe even WalMart ? Sami Fruits is a local Montreal business and sells decent (don't buy in bulk, it doesn't last), affordable healthy food, unlike the 'big guys' who's only affordable food is junk-food. If they were given assurances of a bylaw change and they are not bothering anyone other than their competitors, I say leave them alone. Have a Saint-Laurent city referendum to change the bylaw. It's not complicated.
  2. Barry posted on 05/02/2014 10:36 AM
    This is typical of business laws in the Montreal area biting off their nose to spite their face. This business provides needed to jobs to people who might not find work otherwise. Sells fruits and vegies and a decent price and even provides a shuttle.
    So far I do not see this as a problem or a detriment to the community.
    It is strange that Mr. Desousa because it's only issue is that it uses more than 15% of the building for retail space but no issue with all the erotic massage parlors in St.Laurent next to schools and homes.
    I guess different priorities in that part of town.....how sad.
  3. Lucy posted on 05/02/2014 05:35 PM
    I totally agree with the comments above. Also, zoning bylaws need to be updated in Saint Laurent to bring some life in Saint Laurent and its residents. It's true that we are ideally located to go outside our community to do all our shopping and eating out. But, it's about time we bring some great entrepreneurs INTO Saint Laurent - and open up local commerce IN SAINT LAURENT!
  4. CDU posted on 05/03/2014 07:55 AM
    Enough with the backroom deals with justifications like "the city councilman told me I could do it". Who does this guy think he is to just decide to open a store wherever he wants? That's why we h a v e laws. Al-Asmar is dancing around with arguments like 'fruit is good for you' and 'poor people need affordable veggies' but if you think letting people do whatever they want regardless of what the laws are, then you'll start seeing businesses open in residential areas, and condos being built on the mountain. If Sami Fruits is in violation of the law it needs to be shut down. Disgusting.
  5. Colleen posted on 05/04/2014 04:22 PM
    It seems such an easy decision to make. Here is a store providing affordable, healthy foods to the community at no danger to anyone, except maybe the egos of some politicians and competitors .
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