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GUEST OPINION: Why the delay in approval?

Venerable Yvonne Tsai, a Buddhist nun with the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute, spoke during a regular council meeting in Montague on Sept. 14.
Venerable Yvonne Tsai, a Buddhist nun with the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute, spoke during a regular council meeting in Montague on Sept. 14.

Events that have transpired these last few weeks at the Three Rivers council meetings have prompted me to write this letter. Living through the events of 2020, I’ve learned individuals need to speak up when they feel an injustice has been done.

To start, I believe our provincial government must be vigilant in protecting our land ownership and enforce the P.E.I. Land Protection Act that prohibits groups and businesses from acquiring large acreage. If the information I’ve heard about two large potato producers is correct, there appears to be ways to circumvent these laws, and this situation needs to be addressed. This is an important but separate issue from the proposed GWBI (Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute) development in Brudenell.

I was surprised and disappointed to hear the GWBI application to move forward with the next phase of their development was voted down by council on Sept. 14 with no specific reasons given. I am a resident of Brudenell and have had the opportunity to work with the nuns through their involvement at Roma at Three Rivers National Historic Site and tutoring a few of the nuns in English. I feel their presence in Brudenell is an asset to our community. They are good neighbours: friendly and eager to help out if asked and mindful of nature and the environment.

I would challenge Mr. Creed’s claim that there has been a lack of transparency on the process. Before Three Rivers was formed, the GWBI held a public information meeting in the community of Brudenell in 2018 where the Nine Yard Studio representatives presented the proposed long-term development and a number of the venerable nuns were present to answer questions. Reaction from those who attended was positive. The buildings are designed to include an attractive cultural esthetics. A lot of consideration and planning has gone into how the development could possibly affect the environment, for example, the impact on the ground water level and the possible increased traffic in the area. I left the meeting feeling that we were fortunate to have such a development in our community with people who would be good neighbours.

I realize that the situation has changed with Three Rivers Council now approving the applications and not the Brudenell Community Council, but the GWBI should not be penalized because of that. The land was purchased three-four years ago, approved by IRAC, and approval for the first phase was given and completed. Hundreds of people attended the open house for the new residence last December and I only heard positive comments about the facility, the warm hospitality people received and the openness about what happens at the monastery. A scale model of the proposed development was on display along with information panels and GWBI representatives were on hand to answer questions.

A sweeping statement like Councillor Holland’s, “Obviously the community does not have a good feeling about this (development)” should be avoided since it is not accurate and based on negative comments from a couple of council meetings. I understand that people outside of Brudenell might not have taken much notice of what was happening two years ago and now want to be informed. That is a good thing. What is not acceptable is to infer that the GWBI are trying to hide the plans and that this development has just come to light. Please do not combine two separate issues: the acquisition of P.E.I. land by businesses or groups, which is a province wide issue, and the GWEBI-proposed development in Brudenell.

Helen Lockerby lives in Brudenell, Three Rivers and has worked with the nuns of the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute.

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