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Buddhist residence in Brudenell delayed again following heated Three Rivers meeting

Coun. Cindy MacLean, left, reviews documents during a recent Three Rivers' committee of council meeting in Georgetown.
Coun. Cindy MacLean, left, reviews documents during a recent Three Rivers' committee of council meeting in Georgetown. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THREE RIVERS, P.E.I. — Venerable Angeline Hsu wants the people of Brudenell to know how much she and her fellow Buddhist nuns love P.E.I.

"We really feel like this is our home."

She's been representing the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI) during its application process to build a new residence on its property along Brudenell Point Road. The proposed 176-person residence is a single step in the GWBI's 10-year master plan to construct a multi-building campus facility there.

The application was made in April and was originally recommended by the municipality's planning board for an Aug. 24 meeting.

The residence was back on the agenda at a special meeting of Three Rivers' council Aug. 31 at the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague. However, several concerns raised by members of the public and a few councillors led to the decision being tabled for a second time.

Janice MacBeth, a Three Rivers resident, said there wasn't a sufficient amount of public consultation on the matter prior to the night's decision.

"We were all told by our door knockers that we would have a say in what our neighbours did and what they could do on their property," she said. "We need to have those discussions."

Council's meeting was sporadically interrupted by members of the public, despite Mayor Edward MacAulay firmly expressing the pre-allotted time for public comment was to be adhered to.

"This is a special meeting of council," he said. "The public has five minutes (each) to speak and that is it, I'm afraid."

Three Rivers' mayor Edward MacAulay at a recent council meeting in Georgetown on Aug. 24. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Three Rivers' mayor Edward MacAulay at a recent council meeting in Georgetown on Aug. 24. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

 

Heather MacLean, a neighbour of GWBI, noted she attended many public presentations held on GWBI's master plan – hosted by them and in affiliation with Brudenell's pre-amalgamation community council.

Some of the concerns included what the residence's water, septic, and stormwater management plans were, as well as how construction would impact traffic.

MacBeth also raised concerns with the area's shortage of housing and the rising housing costs that resident's incomes might not be able to cater to the GWBI's proposed capacity of up to 1,400 nuns for the entire facility, she said.

"(Because) we don't have a boost in our economy. We haven't created jobs here."

Hsu said traffic studies have already taken place and the residence will have more than one well. 


AT A GLANCE:

  • The estimated value of the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute's (GWBI) proposed residence is $8 million, according to the development application obtained by The Guardian.
  • The gross floor area of the three-storey building would be about 5,900 square metres. The first storey, which is the basement, would contain a dining and kitchen area, storage and laundry facilities, and a prayer room.
  • The second storey would contain classrooms, ceremonial space, offices, and study rooms. The third storey would mostly be residence rooms, which could house up to 176 people via bunk beds.
  • While future buildings across GWBI's campus will be applied individually, the residence application includes the construction of a node that would one day connect to a dining building and another dormitory building. 

A few representatives of Nine Yards Studio, the Charlottetown-based architecture firm that's helping design and plan the GWBI's facility, also attended the meeting. Contract administrator Mark Steele clarified the septic and stormwater plans are complete and ready to be reviewed by the province but a building permit hasn't been issued.

"(Because) they're awaiting a development permit from Three Rivers," he said.

These plans were already submitted to Three River's planning board in Nine Yards' development application, he said.A few councillors expressed concerns similar to those shared by the public. Coun. Ronnie Nicholson suggested council table the decision again until its next regular meeting and consult the public beforehand.

But MacAulay argued the planning board has already done its due diligence and has recommended the application, so he didn't see a need to start the process over.

"We can study it to death and we wouldn't be any further ahead. These folks have been waiting for some time to get this development permit."

- Mayor Edward MacAulay


"We can study it to death and we wouldn't be any further ahead," he said. "These folks have been waiting for some time to get this development permit."

Silva Stojak, owner of Nine Yards, offered to respond to the public's pertinent questions with hopes it would help move the application forward.

Council tabled a decision until its Sept. 14 meeting. The public may submit their comments to the municipality of Three Rivers by Sept. 7, some of which Nine Yards and the GWBI will respond to at the meeting.

Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.

Twitter.com/dnlbrown95

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