• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion could be home to region’s first Muslim cemetery

Vaudreuil-Dorion could soon become home to a Muslim cemetery. Mayor Guy Pilon confirmed that the applicant is currently negotiating with the owners for a vacant parcel of land on rue St. Antoine just south of Highway 20. The land is next to the Saint Jean Baptiste Catholic Cemetery.

While Mayor Pilon said he is happy the Muslim community may get their own land, he also sought to clarify any misconceptions people may have about the proposed project and the negligible impact it will have on the Catholic cemetery.

“It’s not that they’re allowing the Muslim graveyard to be built within the grounds of the Catholic cemetery. Permission has been granted by the Catholic parish to allow passage through their land to access the proposed Muslim cemetery. It will be more that 350 meters away from the road,” said Pilon.

Project dates back to 2016

The history of the proposed project goes back to 2016 when an initial request for an amendment to the city’s zoning by-law was made. The city requested additional information from the applicant. Two years later, a new zoning amendment request was filed with the city with a view to building a Muslim cemetery.

Given that the St. Jean Baptiste graveyard is located on the adjacent lot, the city deemed it would be best to group such facilities in the same location. “The easiest way to put in a new cemetery is to have it next to an existing one. It’s the same use of the land,” said Pilon.

‘Mutual respect’

“They went to the Catholic parish and they said yes. They also went to the Catholic Diocese of Valleyfield which includes Vaudreuil-Dorion and they also said yes to the proposal. The decision shows mutual respect for each other,” Pilon added.

Before the project can go ahead, the Commission de la protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) will have to accept the request from the applicant who is the owner of Les Placements Cadillac lots. Until approval is granted, it is not possible to build on the site.

Even though the cemetery will be built on agricultural land, the agricultural advisory committee (which includes farmers) and the MRC’s regional urban planning table agreed with a request to change the revised land use and development plan, which is under the responsibility of the MRC and which the city’s urban planning by-laws must conform to.

No possibility for cultivation

The land set aside was never used for farming and has no possibility of being cultivated given its topography and other constraints, said Pilon. “The cemetery will not be built in the area where the land is already cultivated,” he said.

“I was there with three farmers from the area looking at the land. After about 100 metres they said the land is on a slope and can’t be used for cultivation. We had no problem approving the land for a cemetery,” said Pilon.

There are still several steps that need to be taken before the project is approved. Pilon stressed it’s not the city that will make the final decision regarding the project, but the CPTAQ.

“Even if a positive response is obtained from all levels of government, the project would only see the light of day in 2020,” Pilon added.