They say good fences make good neighbours. Frosted windows, apparently, do not.
Some members of a Montreal YMCA and leaders of a neighbouring Hasidic Jewish synagogue are involved in a minor spat over windows and the state of dress, or rather undress, of some gym users.
"The issue seems to be with these four frosted windows," said Mayer Feig, director of the Jewish Orthodox Council for Community Relations, pointing to the offending parties - a row of frosted panes on the second floor at the back of the YMCA building.
Across an alley, a scant few metres away, is the back of the Hasidic Jewish Congregation Yetev Lev. Scant enough, it seems, that young boys and teens studying at the synagogue can look across into the windows, where they would have a full view of sweaty, spandex-covered bodies, stretching and bouncing in all manner of ways.
"You can see people dressed in some ways that we don't believe in dressing and we don't believe in our kids dressing and we don't believe in them seeing people (dressed that way)," said Mr. Feig.
So last February, a member of the Jewish community paid for the windows to be frosted, which in turn frosted Renee Lavaillante.
The Montreal woman, who takes three classes a week at the Y, said the issue isn't sunlight or the view. It's the principle.
"It's like the veil principle - if we represent a temptation, we must be hidden," Ms. Lavaillante said in an interview. "So, they hide us because we're in T-shirts and tights and exercising?"
She and a friend have started a petition to let the sunshine in. They've collected about 100 names over the past month.
It would be nice to have some sun and a view, Ms. Lavaillante said.
"But above all it's the principle, not to be hidden because we represent something bad."
The windows were covered with curtains for the past decade but needed to be replaced, said YMCA director Serge St-Andre.
He said a survey of the 300 to 400 people who practise aerobics, tai chi and yoga in the second-floor room found many, just like the Jewish congregation, wanted the windows covered.
"There's lots of members who don't like to be seen when they're doing physical activity," Mr. St-Andre said.
Jewish leaders say they don't understand the sudden uproar.
"It's not stopping anybody from coming to the Y and doing what they came here to do - exercise, swim, workout," Mr. Feig said, shaking his head.
He points to the pot-holed asphalt of the alley and a garbage truck collecting a bin, wondering what view Ms. Lavaillante could be talking about.
Abraham Perlmutter, a synagogue spokesman, said religious leaders discussed it with YMCA management, who agreed to frost the windows.
"It's respect for our religion," Mr. Perlmutter said.
"Why should they antagonize us? It doesn't change anything for them."