PEI

Buddhist nuns say they won't appeal building permit denial

P.E.I.'s community of Buddhist nuns has decided not to appeal a recent decision by Three Rivers council denying them a building permit for a new dormitory.  

'We feel it is important to address concerns before moving forward,' nuns say

Buddhist nuns on P.E.I. already have one residence on their property in Brudenell in eastern P.E.I. (Shane Ross/CBC)

P.E.I.'s community of Buddhist nuns has decided not to appeal a recent decision by Three Rivers council denying their school a building permit for a new dormitory.  

During a Sept. 14 meeting that ran for three hours and brought out more than 100 members of the public, councillors voted 7-3 against allowing the nuns, part of the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI), to build a second two-storey residence to accommodate 176 more nuns. 

GWBI already has one residence on its property in Brudenell. It has a 10-year plan to build a monastery for 1,400 people. 

Need to build trust cited

The nuns have lived in eastern P.E.I. for more than a decade. The school provides a place for nuns to study and practise the teachings of Buddha, according to its website.

"The priority of GWBI is building trust with our community," spokesperson Venerable Sabrina said in an email to CBC News Thursday afternoon. 

"Therefore, while our development permit fits all requirements and has foundations for appeal, we have chosen to forgo the opportunity to appeal as we feel it is important to address concerns before moving forward."

More talks to come

At the time of the council vote, Three Rivers Mayor Ed MacAulay said the decision to deny a building permit was the hardest one the council has had to make so far.

He said the leading concern is about land use and the continued affordability of land in the area. One of the issues raised by objectors was that the GWBI has purchased a number of houses that are now sitting empty.

"The big question was where is it all going?" MacAulay said after the meeting in September.

"I think what the public would like to see is to see our council … sit down with the province and start working out some of these land issues and to make sure that, you know, the public — in our area in particular but in other areas as well — has an opportunity to express their concerns."

The nuns said at the time that they were "sad and disappointed" about the decision, but agreed "it will need more communication to clear things up." 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Tony Davis

now