Local Buddhist society planning grand temple near Richmond

A local Buddhist society is leaving urban Ottawa to build a unique grand temple in a more peaceful area near the village of Richmond, hoping the ornate facility will also be a draw for worshipers from across eastern Ontario and Quebec.

The International Buddhist Progress Society of Ottawa-Carleton has applied to the City of Ottawa for land-use permission to carve out a piece of forested land for a temporary worship facility and traditional Chinese-style temple at 6688 Franktown Rd.

The Buddihist society is vacating its current facility on Scott Street and heading for a more tranquil setting on the 39-hectare parcel of land in rural Ottawa. The new Fo Guang Shan temple would have a long driveway leading from Franktown Road to a one-storey temple and a two-storey rooming house.

Bingfeng Li, the project manager for the development, said a temporary worship facility constructed on the site later this year will have roughly the same area as the current Scott Street building. The permanent temple, which will take much longer to build, will be about 10-times the area of the temporary facility.

“The client isn’t just looking at how many people they have currently. They’re looking at the future,” Li said on Tuesday.

Li said the local Buddhist society bought the land in 2006, received rezoning approval from council in 2007 and has been fundraising for its temple development. Money will also come from other international Buddhist societies to help pay for the project, he said.

The cost of the development could be about $8 million, Li said. Soft soil on the land will require a deeper excavation to reach rock, pushing up the costs.

Li said the society decided to find a new location in the quieter rural area, rather than another urban site.

“The natural environment of that land is really ideal, in an area surrounded by mature trees,” Li said.

Dining spaces, classrooms, a library and a museum are included in the project plan.

Li estimated construction of the permanent temple would take about two years, once all the regulatory approvals are obtained next year. Prayer and worship are only part of the programming for the site, he said. The temple could be ready in 2021.

“They’re going to have many celebrations in the community,” Li said, underscoring the temple’s size and the potential of attracting visitors from outside of the region.

The planning application details the first phase of the temple development and it could grow bigger over the years, depending on how many people are interested in the Buddhist society and its activities, Li said.

Susan D. Smith Architects is the design firm for the buildings. The original concept for the temple came from a member of the Buddhist society and she has been working with Smith on the final design.

Smith said the project team is aiming for a sustainable heating and cooling method and is looking at a geothermal system with pipes circulating water to adjust the building’s temperature. There are also plans to use solar power.

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