Montreal borough can restrict fast food for health reasons: court
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.