Controversial Buddhist temple expansion project could get green light
Ling Yen Mountain Temple scaled back its expansion proposal by 53 per cent
After a decade of fighting the community, the Ling Yen Mountain Temple's plans for expansion are moving forward once more.
The Buddhist temple in Richmond, B.C., has scaled back its expansion proposal by 53 per cent, and city council unanimously approved the scaled down version on May 23. The new plans were being discussed at a public hearing on Monday night.
"We are very happy with this compromise. It works well with the neighbours and also works well with the city," said Scott McMyn, a long-time volunteer and educator at the temple.
Previous designs faced strong opposition because they were deemed too extravagant by residents and they encroached on city bylaws.
The temple — which sits on No. 5 Road, along with a number of other religious institutions on what is referred to as Highway to Heaven — is located on agricultural land.
The city has a No. 5 Backlands Policy, which allows religious institutions to build on Agricultural Land Reserve as long as the structures are less than 110 metres wide.
The proposal that caused controversy was nearly 250 metres wide, leading some to call the design a 'Buddha Disneyland.'
Richmond City Councillor Carol Day was opposed to the expansion, but welcomes the new design.
"We were never against Buddhism. We were never against the temple. We were only against the size of the proposal," she said.
The temple said it needs extra space to meet growing demand. It has a large congregation, holds retreats and is the first stop for many immigrants.
"There is about 70 per cent of local Chinese — who are Buddhist — that do come to this particular temple. Families are growing and our education groups are brimming and we need more space," said McMyn.
New architect steps in
The long battle over the proposal made headway after the temple switched architects in October 2014.
"This design is 53 per cent smaller in area from the original plan. It's not as high. It is 85 feet high, the other one, I think, was about 100," said Randy Knill, partner of DA Architects.
The parking space will be beneath the new temple structure and was cut back from 456 to 385 spots.