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Montreal-area Muslims hold out hope for new cemetery in Vaudreuil-Dorion





The Montreal-area Muslim community could soon be getting another place to bury its dead, as plans are underway to build a new cemetery in Vaudreuil-Dorion, an off-island suburb of Greater Montreal.

The land is currently zoned for agricultural use and will have to get the go-ahead from Quebec’s commission to protect agricultural land to rezone it for a burial site.

The plan already has the backing of the municipality, the regional planning body and Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Currently, there are only six Muslim cemeteries in Quebec, five of which are in the Montreal area.

The site in question is located right next to a Catholic cemetery on Saint-Antoine Road, near where Highways 20 and 30 intersect.

The site is an empty field on Saint-Antoine Road, near where highways 20 and 30 intersect, next to a Catholic cemetery. (CBC)

Mehmet Deger, president of the Dorval mosque, said there is a pressing need for more space where people of the Muslim faith can bury their dead.

Deger was involved in several previous projects to set up Muslim burial sites around Montreal and said he’s faced pushback in the past.

This time, he’s hoping to see more tolerance and understanding.

“When we have a loved one who has departed from this Earth, we have to bury them somewhere,” he said. “It is very difficult to find a place to bury our people.”

The municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion did not return CBC’s request for comment.

Mehmet Deger, president of the Dorval mosque, said there is a need for more burial space for members of the community. (CBC)

In 2017, a similar project to set up a Muslim cemetery was halted not by a zoning issue, but by a public referendum. 

After public pressure from some residents in St-Apollinaire, Que., south of Quebec City, a vote was held on whether the zoning change would go through to establish the cemetery on the outskirts of the town.

Of the 36 people who voted, 19 were against the project.

The project had been spearheaded by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, the mosque that was the site of the fatal shooting in January of that same year, which killed six men.


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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches





Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year





Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend





OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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