New site now in the plans for new synagogue

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A register for a rezoning bylaw to enable a new synagogue to be created on Mackle Road by the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim was held on Thursday, June 15 at City Hall. 23 people signed the register. Only 17 were required to sign in order to call for a referendum.

The register was called for, under provincial law governing rezoning, after 33 out of 56 eligible residents signed a petition to demand the register a month earlier.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said if enough people sign the register, there will be no need for a referendum and, as a result, another location will have to be found for the synagogue.

The city wishes to help its residents and support its institutions. Given the results we will help the congregation to find a new location.

As the Councillor for the area (District 6) I believe it is important to keep our residents united and supportive of one another. I am confident that a better solution can be found to meet everyone’s needs.

Mayor Brownstein said he met with the residents and Rabbi Benoliol after the register closed and assured everyone that we shall work together as a community to find the congregation a more suitable place for them in our City.  The mayor said we are moving quickly to find solutions and all parties are pleased with our proactive approach and that he expects to be able to announce an excellent alternative shortly.  We are a beautiful, proud community that shall always find solutions to accommodate each other through consensus building, he said.

CSL council votes 5-2 to allow rezoning process for synagogue

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CSL council votes 5-2 to allow rezoning process for synagogue

Côte St. Luc council voted 5-2 last week at a standing-room only meeting to pass a second reading of a rezoning bylaw that would enable the creation of a new synagogue on Mackle Road near Quartier Cavendish.

Councillors Glenn Nashen, Allan Levine, Mike Cohen, Sidney Benizri and Sam Goldbloom voted in favour, Ruth Kovac and Steven Erdelyi voted against, and Dida Berku abstained due to her involvement as a lawyer in a legal case unrelated to the rezoning but linked to a court case involving Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Yehouda Benoliel.

At a recent meeting, residents raised concerns about the potential for increased foot and car traffic, noise, late night activity, lowered property values, illegal parking and lost taxes for the city from a religious institution resulting in increased taxes for homeowners, and also brought up the phenomenon of “makeshift” synagogues on residential streets.

Those council members who voted in favour said residents will have their say by choosing whether to call for a register, which could then prompt a referendum. At last week’s meeting, one Mackle Road resident presented a petition, and told council that more than enough people signed to, as part of the bylaw process, potentilly force a referendum.

Councillor Allan Levine gave an impassioned speech in favour of the rezoning. The councillor said while he is grateful that, in Côte St. Luc, no one would vote against him because he is Jewish, others who are Jewish don’t have the same level of comfort — such as students wearing kippahs at Concordia University, and Jews living in France.

Kovac stressed that she was not opposed to the synagogue, but to the proposed location.

“I will not speak about religion or being Jewish — as a child of Holocaust survivors, I couldn’t be more sensitive,” she said.

Kovac explained that several years ago, the council went through an extensive and rigorous exercise of redefining the Cavendish Mall land, much of which is now residential.

“After public consultations, no one opposed the rezoning [to mostly residential from commercial] or the plans submitted,” she explained. “There were no surprises. Today, we are asked to spot zone one lot to accommodate a request for a religious institution.

“The Cavendish Mall… today has voiced their very strong opposition, knowing events taking place at the synagogue would spill onto their property and that parking would become an issue for their customers.

“My vote opposed to the motion is not opposed to the Kollel. I am pro the status quo, not anti-anything else. We should work together to find the appropriate alternate location, and we will work to help you find one, or to find a way to improve your current location.

“What some of the residents have already raised is that this organization has more than one tax-exempt property, they don’t have one, they don’t have two, they don’t have three, they have four or five. Is that really fair to the taxpayer, who this year had significant increases, and for the rest of the community to bear?” We contacted Rabbi Benoliel on this issue, and are waiting for a response.

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In my opinion:

As I said at this public council meeting, this matter has nothing to do with religion or support for a synagogue. We are a city of many religions, languages and residents of all backgrounds, even if the majority are of the Jewish faith. Some are very religious, others somewhat and yet others traditional or secular. We all live in peace and harmony in respect of one another which makes Cote Saint-Luc an incredible place to live and to raise a family. Let’s be sure to keep it this way.

This issue is strictly about the zoning that would be appropriate in this location. The requester, Rabbi Benoliel and the Kollel Avrechim have purchased this property and they have the legal right to request rezoning.

At the same time the residents in the immediate and adjoining area have the legal right, and the final say, on whether or not to permit the rezoning.

The mayor and majority of councillors have agreed to follow provincial law which calls for a three step process whereby residents have their say. This is the only way of having an definitive, official and legal count of those residents who are in favour or against the proposed project. 

The first step is underway and those who live in the affected and adjoining zone who oppose have until May 25 at 4:30PM to advise the city. Details available in this week’s Suburban Newspaper or at www.cotesaintluc.org/publicnotices.

Synagogue proposed for Mackle Road next to Cavendish Mall, public info meeting April 3

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At last night’s Public Council Meeting the City of Cote Saint-Luc dealt with a request from the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim who wish to construct a synagogue on Mackle Road, backing onto the Cavendish Mall parking lot.

In recent years, the new homes on Kellert, and the four lots on Mackle between Kellert and the Mall parking entrance were added to District 6, which I represent. This property is the eastern-most point in the district.

The notice of motion was read aloud and City Council adopted the first draft bylaw to begin the zoning amendment process required to render the residential land for institutional use.

In fact, the property is currently composed of two lots that are currently zoned for a semi‐detached dwelling. The amendment would change the zoning from residential to institutional use.

The Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim is a religious institution that currently occupies, and conducts its affairs at 5750 Parkhaven Avenue. They are seeking to re-establish itself in a new premises to be built on a lot at 6790-6792 Mackle Road.

Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel is the spiritual leader of the congregation.

The City, having officially adopted the notice of motion and first reading of the bylaw, has started the legal steps for the request for rezoning.

The residents within the adjacent zones (neighbouring streets) are the ultimate decision makers. The law requires that eligible residents can demand a register to be opened for any neighbour that chooses to contest the rezoning.

The next step is a provincially-mandated public information meeting on April 3, 2017 at 7:30 P.M. as required by law. Interested residents should attend this meeting at City Hall to learn about the project, ask questions and get answers in order to decide for themselves if they agree with the rezoning.

A public notice is then given around mid to end of April for those residents who ultimately wish to sign a register to force a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, a sign will be placed by the City in front of the property so that all residents may be adequately informed about the proposed changes. More information about the rezoning is available by calling the Cote Saint-Luc Urban Development Department at 514-485-6800.