CDN-NDG restrictions on fast food locations challenged in court
The fast food industry is fighting back against a bylaw restricting where the restaurants can open in the Cote-Des-Neiges-NDG borough.
The regulation, adopted in March, states that new establishments can only open in three designated areas:
- Plaza Cote-Des-Neiges
- Decarie between Queen Mary and Vezina
- St. Jacques from West Broadway to Benny
Restaurants Canada, an industry advocacy group, is taking the issue to court, saying the borough doesn’t have the power to enact such restrictions. They also argued that residents should have the right to decide what food to eat for themselves and took umbrage with the term “fast food” itself, saying the term doesn’t respect criteria involving the nutritional quality of food.
The group said fast food restaurants offer healthier menu choices and ingredient information in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and that borough intervention is illegal.
City councillor Marvin Rotrand said the bylaw does not ban fast food restaurants and considerations have been taken for those that already exist outside the approved areas.
“The bylaw doesn’t ban fast food,” he said. “What it does say is, if you are in (the approved areas) you have the full right to have fast food. And if someone else asks for fast food permits in those zones, they’ll be given one. But, if you’re running a fast food elsewhere in the borough on a commercial artery, we’re telling you that you have acquired rights, we’re not putting you out of business in any way… but if you close and somebody comes a year or two later… we won’t give a permit. It’s a long-term vision, we’re looking 10, 20 years down the line.”
The bylaw is part of a larger plan to improve the health of borough residents. Other aspects include restricting the number of car parking spots around metro stations, increasing the number of places to park bicycles and eliminating the drive-through portion of restaurants.
“We want to limit drive-ins because we want to decrease automobile traffic and greenhouse gas emissions and we’ve made a choice where in the future new fast food places can open,” said Rotrand. “Years ago people used to think tobacco was cool people don’t think that anymore and tobacco industries often try to fight regulations by saying it’s a personal choice.”