Montreal borough decides where new fast food restaurants can (and can’t) set up: Supreme Court

The borough of Cote-des-Neiges-NDG gets to decide where fast-food restaurants can set up.

It’s a victory for a municipal bylaw and a defeat to the fast food industry, with Decarie Blvd. being one of the few places in the borough where new fast-food joints can open.

The bylaw was put into place in 2017.

“It encourages us to continue to do those types of bylaws, and to continue to have policies and programs that promote healthy lifestyles,” said borough Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa.

The restaurant industry challenged the bylaw, and it went to the Supreme Court of Canada — but the court refused to hear the case, meaning the bylaw stayed in effect.

“We certainly wanted people to eat more nutritionally and eat better food, but we also were concerned about the long-term look of our commercial arteries,” said former City Councilor Marvin Rotrand.

The bylaw aims to keep the restaurants to areas that already have traffic, Rotrand explains.

“We did not want the future of Cote-des-Neiges, Queen Mary and Monkland to be wall-to-wall fast foods.”

The borough considers a fast-food joint as any restaurant that uses disposable cutlery.

Although Rotrand and Katahwa back the bylaw, the verdict is more mixed among locals.

“My only issue with that is that it doesn’t let you establish new franchises, right? I mean you have the established titans, Burger King and McDonald’s, and all that jazz. And there are a few that are up and coming mom and pop shops — or what about franchises of different cuisines,” one local told CTV News.

“If businesses follow the rules and don’t disrupt anything, why not?” said another.

The borough’s mayor says her administration is now considering putting into place other bylaws to promote wellness.

“I think it’s a good first step. We promote different programs and policies that promote healthy lifestyles like community gardens,” said Katahwa.

Restaurants Canada, the lobby group that challenged the bylaw, declined to comment.

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