Montreal’s QSR Restrictions Get Court Challenge

Months after adopting legislation to encourage healthier lifestyles for residents—in part by restricting QSRs to just three areas—Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce council is being taken to court by Restaurants Canada on the grounds that it didn’t have the authority to have passed the new rules.

The Toronto-based association calls the new regulations arbitrary and says they will probably be ineffective because the definition of a QSR is based on the type of service a customer receives rather than on the nutritional content of the food.

It also argues that the regulations adopted in March go beyond the zoning powers afforded a municipality under Quebec law. The legislation include incentives for c-stores to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, and encourages residents to walk, ride bicycles or use public transit. It also gives breaks to developers that provide amenities encouraging people to exercise and use modes of transportation other than a car.

But the most controversial aspect is a decision to grant permits to QSR outlets, defined as those that do not offer table service and where food comes in throwaway containers, in only three areas. Elsewhere in the borough, new permits will no longer be issued for QSRs.

Pierre Cadieux, who handles government relations Restaurants Canada, says he worries that letting such rules go uncontested would set a precedent for other cities being urged to find innovative ways to tackle such public-health problems as obesity and poor eating habits. “We want to avoid this snowballing effect.”

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