I am writing this email to voice my strong opposition to the proposed construction of a Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) at the above location. I hope you will find time to read this email and understand my concerns.
Both me and my wife are residents of Goodwin Drive, which is close to the proposed site.
We have lived in India for much of our early life before moving to Canada. Although we are Hindu (and not Sikh), many of our friends are Sikh and I have visited Sikh temples. In India, big places of worship are in a market/high-traffic area. But that is beside the point.
This is certainly not a religious issue to us. I would be vehemently opposed to a mega hindu temple or a mega church or even a home depot at the same location. By being the member of a minority religion in this country, I believe I can bring a different perspective to this discussion.
The proposed building does not fit in to the surroundings. We were attracted to this neigbourhood, and eventually became homeowners because of the beautiful way public buildings like the library and school blended into the landscape. The mega temple will not.
However, there are other more important concerns too. I will provide real life examples to illustrate my point.
There is a misplaced sense of propriety among some who believe that it is hypocritical to allow hundreds of churches to be built and not this one temple. That is actually the very reason why we have to be so careful. There are very few places of worship for minority religions in this country. We have to be careful where we place them for this very reason, especially when they are planned this big.
I personally (on ocassion) visit a hindu temple near the toronto airport (6815 Professional Court, mississauga). There is another temple on the same road and a number of church variants. This temple is pretty big (or so I used to think, because this proposed sikh temple will dwarf it). There is a huge influx of people from far away. If you dig deeper in Google Maps, you will find that the area allocated is far far away from anything residential. The dead end road is inhabited by other places of worship, and a few industrial buildings. I always end up parking at the industrial building opposite the temple because there is no space on important festivals. On Weekdays, you cannot do park on reserved industrial lots and have to park further away and walk to the place. If this were a residential area, I would feel sorry for the residents. Somebody got things right with the location, and I suspect it is both the city and the temple management.
The Hindu temple in Ottawa is in a secluded area. Closer to home, I have visited a temple on Bridge st in waterloo. Again it borders a industrial building and there is nothing on the other side of the road. The famous SV temple in pittsburgh sits on top a secluded hill many miles outside the city. There are actually people from ontario who drive this temple in pittsburgh. I dont want to clutter this email with other example here and in the US, but I have never seen a big temple the middle of single family homes. The reason is simple: these big places of worship are few in number, and there are thousands of people who want to visit.
I dont think anyone travels to a different city to go to a church on sundays. there are more than a hundred churches in Guelph. This is not going to be like your small neighbourhood church. This is big, and there will be a continuous influx of people from surrounding areas. The mega structure will rise like a behemoth in front of Goodwin drive. The parking backflow is a genuine concern. Noise is a major concern. Overall congestion will greatly increase. This is not fearfongering, or religious discrimination, it is just a fact. It will happen because I have seen it.
The biggest Sikh temple in Ontario is located at Dixie road in mississauga. This is not a residential area either. It attracts tens of thousands of visitors, and the place is literally swamped with people on important dates. The proposed construction at Clair Road will be smaller than this, but still end up as one of the largest Sikh temples in Canada. Many Sikhs from south eastern ontario will understandably end up coming to the Clair rd temple instead, making this a high traffic area. People in and west of Milton dont really want to drive into “bad traffic” Mississauga. I would do the same.
This is a beautiful city, and in my opinion, much of our controlled growth should be attributed to prudent decisions taken at City Hall. We should not cloud our judgement based on articles/letters in the Guelph Mercury (often written by people who live nowhere near and are unaware of facts) or perceived religious intolerance. I urge you to make an objective decision based on facts about other such temples elsewhere in the country. There is a reason why all such temples are never built in low density, low rise residential communities. The residents of this community are overwhelmingly against this proposed construction. As part of a religious and linguistic minority myself, I do not expect a sympathy vote or a free pass, and neither should anyone else.
This proposed Sikh temple is too big for any residential community. I implore you to stop this rezoning process from going through. SB