Muslim-run cemetery referendum in Quebec town attracts about half the eligible voters

Muslim-run cemetery referendum in Quebec town attracts about half the eligible voters

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Votes are being tallied in a referendum to allow a zoning change in the town Saint-Apollinaire, Que., that would pave the way for a Muslim-run cemetery.

In May, enough opponents to the project came forward to force a referendum on the zoning change.

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 had been eligible to register.

According to Radio-Canada, only 28 voters had shown up Sunday by 5:00 p.m. ET — a 57 per cent turnout.

Voting began at 10 a.m. and the results are expected at 8 p.m. 

Opponents go 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 does 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 is in favour of the project and said he believes his town’s reputation will be tarnished if the “no” side wins. 

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

The project has 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 supports the Muslim cemetery project. (Marc-Antoine Lavoie/Radio-Canada)

The centre wants 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.

NEWS

via CBC | Top Stories News http://ift.tt/1iYvrpl

July 16, 2017 at 08:10PM

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