Outremont mayor proposes committee to sort out borough tensions
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 5:38PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:52PM EDT
A committee is being set up to tackle a controversial issue over school bus protests in Outremont.
Protesters in in the borough caused outrage when they wore yellow squares to speak out against the school bus drop-off in the area.
The group wore yellow pins to a borough council meeting on March 5 to protest the use of year-round school buses by the community's Hasidic Jews, which they called a nuisance.
Some took exception to the symbol, arguing it was reminiscent of the Holocaust and aimed at the Hasidic Jewish community.
Outremont Mayor Philipe Tomlinson said he thinks a committee is the key to finding a solution.
“I think most of the conflict and most of the problems that have been put forth by different people in Outremont over the years are based on a lack of knowledge,” he said.
A roundtable on Hassidic relations will be held and made up equally of Hassidic and non-Hasidic residents.
The goal is to get people to talk, which Alex Werzberger, president of the Coalition of Outremont Hasidic Organizations, believes could be the solution.
“Meeting and dialogue has never hurt anybody. Is it going to work? It depends a lot on the opposition and maybe a little bit on us too,” he said, adding that he thinks there is potential something good could come out of all of this.
Though there have been years of tension, progress has to start somewhere, he said.
“You can't do something without a beginning,” he said.
The person who started the yellow square movement declined CTV’s request for an interview but reiterated that the symbol is meant to target the school bus issue and has nothing to do with the Hasidic Jewish community.
“I'm not saying that they did it deliberately or not, but it's offensive and it's unacceptable and they should change,” said Tomlinson, adding that the committee was planned well before the yellow square issue was brought about.
Tomlinson said he’s hopeful and confident this new initiative could be the answer.