(BETHANY) The Province’s approval of a wind energy farm near Bethany has “shocked and disappointed” the Buddhist Association of Canada, and potentially derail the multi-million dollar Cham Shan Temple planned for the area.
Diane Chen, property development and special projects manager for the temple, spoke with This Week on Friday (Dec. 13), a day after the Province announced it has approved the controversial Sumac Ridge wind farm, with five turbines.
“We were shocked and disappointed,” she said. “No one notified us about this.”
Ms Chen said the Buddhist retreat currently under construction on Ski Hill Road near Bethany is a $40 million project. “That’s a lot of money.”
She said that on Nov. 4 the Buddhists, local MPP Laurie Scott and Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble met with the minister of energy and officials from both the ministries of the Environment and Rural Affairs on with a positive outcome. Ms Chen said there was a promise to look into the situation.
The Cham Shan Temple includes the centre piece and three retreat centres that has been planned for 20 years, Ms Chen explained. It will be built using “ancient techniques” and is a bridge between Canada and China. The four sites will mimic the four great Buddhist temples of China.
The Buddhist Association of Canada has been purchasing properties in the Pontypool and Bethany areas over the years with that goal in mind.
One site is in Cavan-Monaghan Township and the remaining three are in Manvers Township.
Ms Chen said construction of all four could easily represent an investment of $100 million, with the great tourism potential as the Temple offers a place for those seeking a tranquil place to meditate. Wind turbines would have a significant impact on that, she noted, especially since most of the money is donated.
“We rely on donations.”
Currently, there are four wind energy farms planned in Manvers Township; along with Sumac Ridge are Snowy Ridge, Settlers Landing and Stoneboat. Only Sumac Ridge has received approval so far. The farms are operated by different developers and each has five turbines.
She said the Buddhists’ concerns about wind turbines are the negative impact on people trying to meditate, along with possible health hazards.
Ms Chen said after the Nov. 4 meeting, in which government officials promised to “look into our case”, the group was told that while it might not be possible to cancel the wind projects, “they would look at relocation…and promised to get back to us. We were told it was the start of many conversations.”
Instead, the approvals were issued, she said “on the evening of last day of the legislature…when we were out of the country.
“We were waiting patiently to hear back…and we had no notice of this at all. It was sneaky.”
In a press release issued Thursday (Dec. 12) Ms Scott immediately went to several Ministers voicing her concerns and disappointment. She also pointed out to them that one of the now approved turbines will be adjacent to one of the Cham Shan Buddhist Temple retreats. Despite assurances from the Ministry of Energy that the Temple would be consulted before a final decision was made, no such dialogue occurred, the releases states.
Ms Chen said the Buddhist Association of Canada will join Manvers Wind Concerns in filing an appeal.
“We’re shocked the government would not honour the promise of communication.”
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