Canadian court slaps Jewish community with $2.6 million water bill

TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian court has ordered a Hasidic community to pay an outstanding  bill of $2.6 million.

The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled Jan. 31 that the Tasher community in Boisbriand, north of Montreal, must pay $1.3 million in water taxes, plus $1.3 million in accrued interest, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

The community, numbering about 3,000 members, has not paid its water taxes since 2005, the weekly newspaper reported.

The ruling by the province’s highest court upholds several lower court decisions which found that the town of Boisbriand had the right to collect the debt from the community. The Tashers were also ordered to pay the town’s legal costs.

While the community has its own private aqueduct, the dispute was over the potable water it receives from the public system. The Tashers claimed the town had not honored a 1990 agreement that water meters would be installed on each residential and communal building in their enclave.

They argued that a single meter was installed for all buildings and that consumption was calculated inaccurately.

The court said the community had acted in “bad faith, resulting in an unreasonable, indeed disproportionate, use of the legal process.”

The community’s lawyer said he is considering appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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