Mon­treal bor­ough can re­strict fast food for health rea­sons: court

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - SIDHARTHA BAN­ER­JEE

MON­TREAL — A Que­bec judge has up­held a Mon­treal bor­ough’s by­law that lim­ited where new fast food restau­rants could open as part of a broader health ini­tia­tive.

Que­bec Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Marc St-Pierre ruled against an in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing a num­ber of fast food chains that had sought to over­turn the mu­nic­i­pal law.

“The court is of the opinion that the bor­ough was per­fectly en­ti­tled to reg­u­late the busi­nesses it calls ‘fast food restau­rants’ by virtue of its gen­eral pow­ers,” St-Pierre wrote in his Oct. 30 de­ci­sion.

Cit­ing a de­sire to pro­mote healthy eat­ing, the Côte-desNeiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace bor­ough — the city’s largest — passed a zon­ing by­law in 2016 that lim­its new fast food restau­rants to two ma­jor streets and a shop­ping cen­tre.

Restau­rants Canada, an as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing Canada’s food ser­vice in­dus­try that was the lead plain­tiff, says it is con­sid­er­ing “all avail­able op­tions” af­ter the rul­ing.

It had ar­gued the lo­cal law­mak­ers went too far and that pro­vin­cial law does not give mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties the power to es­tab­lish zon­ing on the ba­sis of their cit­i­zens’ per­sonal nu­tri­tional choices. It also said the law was dis­crim­i­na­tory be­cause the bor­ough would ap­ply a dif­fer­ent treat­ment to restau­rants not con­sid­ered to be fast food op­er­a­tions.

Coun. Marvin Ro­trand, who pro­posed the by­law, said he hopes other bor­oughs and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will fol­low suit.

“It would have been a sig­nif­i­cant loss for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties right across Que­bec if we’d lost this judg­ment, be­cause it would have re­stricted what a mu­nic­i­pal­ity could ac­tu­ally do,” Ro­trand said.

The long­time city coun­cil­lor said Fast food es­tab­lish­ments were de­fined in the by­law as restau­rants that had throw­away pack­ag­ing and cut­lery, no ta­ble ser­vice and food made to be eaten quickly on the spot.

Ro­trand said the bor­ough has in­tro­duced poli­cies in re­cent years to pro­mote healthy life­styles and health­ier neigh­bour­hoods.

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