Plan for new Buddhist nun monastery gets good reviews from public

Neighbours of a new proposed monastery for Buddhist nuns from The Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI) in eastern P.E.I. are supportive of the plan.

A public meeting was held Thursday as part of the environmental assessment

This model shows the plan for the site. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Neighbours of a new proposed monastery for Buddhist nuns from The Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI)  in eastern P.E.I. are  supportive of the plan. At an open house Thursday night, the public got to have a look at the plans, and give feedback.

The overall response to the 120-hectare religious campus in Brudenell was positive.

"I think it's fantastic, it's going to be wonderful for the Island, for our community, and for the nuns," said Daniel Mitchell, who also does some business with the nuns. 

Daniel Mitchell says he is all for the project. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"They're a great addition to rural P.E.I. and we need strengthening in rural P.E.I. They, as well as the Amish that are here, are creating a better rural environment for Prince Edward Island."

Joseph Spriet, who lives close to the Heatherdale Monastery, couldn't agree more. He has been happy to see the Buddhist community welcomed.

This photo is an example of what the monastery could look like. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"The world changes, P.E.I. has to change too. I know we all like to keep things the way they are," he said 

 "But when you look at what they represent and what they do, and if you get to know what they're doing, then they're a benefit to our community. "

Careful Planning

In total the campus could house 1,400 nuns with 200,000 sq. ft of buildings and a lot of green space, some which will be open to the public. An important part of developing the plan for the nuns, was being careful with the land. 

"We're following what's called an ecological planning process," explained Rob LeBlanc, president of Ekistics Planning and Development, which worked on the master plan.

Joseph Spriet says the Buddhist community has been nothing but beneficial to the area. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"We're trying to get an understanding of how the land functions now so that when we put either new buildings or new parking lots or even the new gardens on it, that we're not changing those landscape features that currently exist."

LeBlanc also pointed out in his presentation to the meeting that the monastery could have financial benefits to the Island, given the growing popularity of religious tourism.

'This is our lifetime dream'

The positive feedback had the nuns beaming at the event.

The thought of their own place to work and study has many very excited. 

"In the monastery, many of the nuns when they talk about the project, some of them, they cry," said Venerable Yvonne. 

Rob LeBlanc, president of Ekistics Planning and Development, says the environment was considered at every step during planning. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"This is our lifetime dream of living in a traditional monastery that we can study and practice about peace and about harmony and we really feel grateful that the community gave us the chance."

She said Brudenell is ideal for what they want to do. 

"As Buddhist monastery we don't want to have shopping centres around us, we don't want to have casinos around us, and we want to have a protected area around us that is not over developed," she said.

Venerable Yvonne says the nuns are very excited for the project to gain approval. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"We think this is a very perfect site for us to study and practice and also give back to the community. "

The public has until June 17 to send in any comments to the Department of Environment. After that the province will make a decision on the overall project. The group is also waiting on the Brudenell council to approve it's new land use bylaw, which would contain the zoning rules needed for the project.

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Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.