Ontario: uproar over mosque at council meeting

Controversies surrounding the planned 16th Avenue mosque continue to plague Markham town hall, with the latest uproar resulting in the mayor and some residents pointing fingers at each other and losing their cool Tuesday night.

The group that has been protesting against the mosque stormed council chambers again without having made it on to the agenda – group leaders said they tried to get on the agenda with no luck. However, Markham council fired back this time with a nine-page PowerPoint counter presentation, which wasn’t on the agenda, either.

“You continue to put out misinformation (about the mosque) and we’ll continue to put out the correct information,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti told members of the Markham Residents for Responsible Community Planning (MRRCP).

Development services commissioner Jim Baird said he was asked by the town’s corporate communications staff to prepare a presentation in response to the MRRCP’s latest flyer. At times, Mr. Baird couldn’t be heard during his presentation due to an ongoing brouhaha from residents in attendance.

MRRCP president Phil Richardson said during his deputation Tuesday that according to their calculation, the net floor area of the mosque is actually 1,980 square metres, not 1,692 square metres. He said the total parking spaces required should be 220 and that the site plan approval process for the mosque should begin again.

Mr. Richardson called Mr. Baird’s presentation “nonsense” and “a replay of what’s typically done here”. He left the meeting at the start of the presentation. Other residents also left intermittently throughout Mr. Baird’s presentation. One woman shouted she couldn’t listen to it anymore. “This is a lot of hogwash,” she said.

YorkRegion.com, 1 March 2012