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19 voters quash Muslim-run cemetery in Saint-Apollinaire, Que.

Sunday - 16/07/2017 22:11
Count shows 19 votes against, 16 votes in favour after petition forced referendum on rezoning
Out of the 49 voters who registered, 36 voted on Sunday. (Radio-Canada)
Out of the 49 voters who registered, 36 voted on Sunday. (Radio-Canada)

Residents of Saint-Apollinaire, Que., voted against a proposed Muslim-run cemetery in their town Sunday.

The referendum saw 36 people vote on whether a zoning change would be allowed so that a new cemetery could exist in a wooded area on the outskirts the town. 

The final tally showed 19 votes were against the project, 16 votes in favour and one rejected ballot.

Only 49 people in the 6,400-person town, located 35 kilometres southwest of Quebec City, were able to vote in the referendum because they lived in the vicinity of the proposed site and had registered to vote.

Seventy people were eligible to register.

The citizen-led referendum was forced when 40 people signed a petition against the project in April. 

Opponents went door-to-door

Opponents to the project went door-to-door gathering signatures in the spring to force a referendum on the zoning change.

One of those opponents was Sunny Létourneau, a member of a group called the association for alternatives.

Sunny Létourneau
Sunny Létourneau did not live close enough to the proposed site for the cemetery to vote in the referendum, but is opposed to the project. (Radio-Canada)

She is in favour of non-denominational cemeteries, and says she is equally opposed to cemeteries designated for Catholics, which are common across the province.

"We need cemeteries that welcome everybody, no matter their religion, where they're from, their skin colour, their culture. You have to think about that because in 20 years it's going to be a problem," she said.

Mayor in favour of cemetery

Saint-Apollinaire Mayor Bernard Ouellet was in favour of the project and said he believed his town's reputation would be tarnished if the "no" side won. 

He said when the mosque's leaders first came to him with the proposal he "didn't think it would bother anyone."

The project had been in the works since 2016 and was spearheaded by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, the mosque which was the site of the shooting rampage in January, which killed six men. 

Mayor Bernard Ouellet
Saint-Apollinaire Mayor Bernard Ouellet supported the Muslim cemetery project.
(Marc-Antoine Lavoie/Radio-Canada)

 

The centre wanted to buy 60,000 square feet of land in a wooded area near the Harmonia funeral home for the cemetery, located on the outskirts of the town.

The centre was ready to invest $215,000 into their project, but the land in question has to be rezoned first.


With files from CBC's Claude Rivest and Radio-Canada's Carl Marchand

Source: CBC News:::

 Key: Quebec City

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