Thinking Out Loud

January 25, 2013

Canada’s Largest City Aims To Crack Down on Churches

Truth be told, it’s probably got a lot to do with the fact they don’t pay taxes.

The City of Toronto — Canada’s largest municipality — is putting forward proposed bylaw changes that have implications for places of worship. The proposed changes have teeth to deal with both present and future churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.

Church OccupancySpecifically:

  • Limitations on purchase and rental of property
  • Greater parking space requirements, while at the same time decreasing the occupancy load of meeting spaces
  • Banning churches from light industrial areas and residential neighborhoods

Previously, we linked to this story as reported October 21st at The Toronto Star.

Next Thursday, January 31st, churches across the Toronto area will converge for an information meeting and prayer rally at The Peoples Church. 

While it’s easy to dismiss this as a Toronto issue, it has implications for other municipalities. Toronto is part of a large urban conglomerate sometimes known as the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) or the Golden Horseshoe (which takes in the neighboring  City of Hamilton). What Toronto does, other cities and towns often copy.

The story is part of larger issue. Where do churches go either when starting from scratch, renovating an existing facility, or in transition and between locations? New York City is a prime example against a backlash against churches meeting in schools which has implications for community centers and other public spaces.  In Toronto, the twofold challenge is that school rental costs have increased by up to 800%.

Often, the increasing regulation burden impacts the ethnic churches, but it is also noted that many of the smaller churches are part of fringe conservative and fringe charismatic sects; and some groups affected by tougher regulations are not Christian.

The rally in Toronto begins at 7:00 PM with a presentation about the issues, followed by a prayer time scheduled to run between 8:00 and 9:30.  For any interested readers in the GTA, the church is located at 374 Sheppard East, just north of Highway 401 and a block west of Bayview.

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