A group of Hasidic Jews in the Laurentians have until July 26 to leave a residence they have been using in violation of local bylaws.
The move came after the Quebec Superior Court ordered the group out of a residential complex in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., which is situated about 100 kilometres north of Montreal.
The town sought the court order after between 30 and 60 mostly young people came to stay in some of the duplexes and triplexes on the property, as they had done for several summers.
The town said they generate excessive garbage, hold loud gatherings that disturb neighbours and use the residence as a house of worship and religious school, in defiance of local bylaws.
While the court ordered the house to be vacated as of July 8, municipal officials say they reached a deal with the residents, who have agreed to leave no later than July 26.
“We spoke to the owners and we collaborated well with them. We need to think that there are children that will need to be relocated,” Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts Mayor Denis Chalifoux told The Canadian Press. “It’s pretty much final that we’ll give them until July 26 to leave the premises.”
He said the group creates “a nuisance, there’s garbage all around the house, they go to bed at 2 a.m. and bang drums.”
Chalifoux told CP that the neighbourhood is zoned for residential use and that buildings are not permitted to be used as places of worship, dormitories or summer camps.
He said the town has sent numerous letters, warnings and citations since 2015, to try to resolve the conflict, but had no success.
In court filings, the town said the buildings in question were being used as a religious school, a place of worship and a dormitory for young people from Quebec, Ontario, the U.S. and elsewhere.
Chalifoux denied that the eviction order is based on anti-Semitism, noting that the area is home to a large Jewish population.
“The Jewish community has been here for 100 years or more,” he said. “They founded the city with us and we have a very good relationship with them.”
We don’t have any issues with the Jewish community, but these people are not obeying the regulations and the law.
– Jean-Léo Legault
Neighbours complained mainly about the noise, Jean-Léo Legault, the deputy mayor of Sainte-Agathe, told Radio-Canada.
“The buildings are not well maintained,” Legault added, and they “are not supposed to be used for that (religious) purpose.”
He also denied any anti-Semitic motives.
“We don’t have any issues with the Jewish community,” Legault told Radio-Canada. “But these people are not obeying the regulations and the law.”
He said the injunction issued by the court is temporary for now, but that the town is seeking to make it permanent.
The latest conflict took place on the same street – Rue des Bouleaux – on which members of the Hasidic Lev Tahor community once lived. In 2013, some of them went to Ontario to flee Quebec child protection authorities who had been seeking to place about 120 of the community’s children in foster care, following allegations of abuse.
Eventually, the Lev Tahor members settled in Guatemala.