Bar owner says he was forced to cancel charity barbecues due to prejudice against bikers
The owner of a Villeray bar said he’s being forced to put an end to his regularly charity barbecues because of bureaucratic red tape.
Every Sunday Pasquale Verrillo throws one of the cookouts on the street in front of Bar 1370 to raise money for Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“It was a free barbecue and all we ask for were donations to BACA. Whatever you wanted to give,” said Verrillo.
The weekly fundraisers started less than two months ago but complaints were filed in that short period of time.
“We donated in the first month about $1,000 and now the second month we started off pretty good. We’re up to about $400 and I received a registered letter from the City of Montreal telling me I had to stop the barbecues,” said Verrillo.
Borough officials said having the barbecue on the street violated zoning bylaws that prohibit outdoor commercial activities. Verrillo said he tried to get a permit but was turned down. He then asked if he could move the event to his fenced off courtyard behind the bar but that, too, was denied.
Verrillo said plans to fight the city’s order and believes neighbours don’t like the events because they’re attended by bikers.
“People have a pre-judgment that as soon as you own a Harley or a motorcycle, you’re a criminal,” he said. “But it isn’t that. There’s a lot of bikers out there that are doing good, especially BACA, they’re doing a lot of good.”
The president of BACA’s Montreal chapter, who goes by the name Groucho, said members of his organization have to deal with negative stereotypes.
“As soon as you mention the word ‘biker,’ especially in Quebec, people stereotype,” he said. “All we are is a non-profit organization helping abused children. There’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t see why there is anything wrong with a local citizen raising money for this non-profit organization.”
Among other activities BACA accompanies abused children to court appearance to offer support as they face their abusers. Groucho said BACA members are all volunteers and fundraisers like Verrillo’s help out.
“He did it because he believes in our cause and he’s a supporter of BACA,” said Groucho. “It’s helping children that have been abused. How could it not be important?”