Proposed Sikh Temple at 410 Clair Rd E.

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

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35 Comments

Filed under Faith, Growth

35 responses to “Proposed Sikh Temple at 410 Clair Rd E.

  1. Paul S

    Fantastic letter, great information, thanks!

    Finally, Bill Hulet, journalists …. can’t object to these comments based on racism.

  2. Al

    This was great insight for everyone interested in this topic.

    I urge you to speak at City Hall on the first of March. Too many people have tried to pull the race card when objections to this huge building in a residential neighbourhood were made. We need someone like you on our side to prove that we are not just a bunch of bigots trying to push out the sikhs.

  3. Gino

    While you may enjoy the contents of the letter, it still fails to address matters relating to the Planning Act.

    A house of worship, at this address, on an arterial road, is still a permitted use within the City of Guelph’s Official Plan.

    You are only continuing to embarrass the good people of WW.

    • Ian Bathurst

      This land, at this address, on an arterial road, is surrounded by hard working people who pay LOTS of taxes, who bust their behinds trying to pay the mortgage and bills, yet these people have no say. The City of Guelph’s Official Plan can be changed, and if the residents of the area believe that should be done, then it should be done. It’s the people of the city who paid for the roads to be built, who pay for the electricity that supplies the street lamps, who pay for the street sweepers, the garbage collection, etc, etc. These are the people who should have a say!

  4. Jason

    Well put SB, a beatiful letter from a visible miniorty. It truely is not a issue about race, or zoning laws and fancy building codes with allowable occupants.
    it is about a very large building being built to close to family dewllings.
    SB we can not prevent the idiots like John And Bill from running their mouths causing chaos and finger pointing by false labeling others. These people are just that, idiots.
    I am white, but not a racists, I am concerne like you because I too see the reality of these large scale temples.
    And it is true, just look at Brampton.
    Thrusday evening @ 903 pm myself and my family was driving by the temple on airport road. The traffic was unbelievable, jaywalkers to boot.
    I guess bill this must have been a wedding or some special sikh occasion that I am unawere of.
    It will not be once a week, but use daily by many, and yes this is a legitatmate concern since this is my neighbourhood. I am rasing a family here, big city congestion in my back yard, NO I don’t want it SMACK DAB in the middle of this residential neighbourhood.
    Once again SB a well put letter my friend.

  5. Colleen

    Thank you very much, I understand more now what’s going on here.
    Q: will our taxes go up? if so by how much?
    Q: what will happen to the value of our homes?
    Q: why does this have to be made into a religious/racism thing?
    Q: Why do people always have play the racist card when it best suits them and why?
    This is about our community, and the safety of all our children. The reason why we all chose to buy our dream homes here was because of the local surroundings. (forest, walking paths, farms, and fields that you rally seen anymore).
    Could some one tell me the hours that the purposed “Temple” is open for worship?
    How many days/open and till what time?
    How many religious events or religious days of worship they celebrate including the time it start to finishes? What type of noise is to be expected?
    That is another concern? not just for us in our area of West Minster but the home owners how bought near the area of dispute.
    I’m sure they had no idea as we are just as surprised that, that area was going to be zoned for any type of building/religious building.
    This is a residential neighbourhood, and lets keep it that way.
    Hope to see you March 1, 2010 at Council Chambers, City Hall, 1 Carden St @ 7pm

    • Bill Hulet

      Colleen:

      Q: will our taxes go up? if so by how much?

      Your taxes will only go up if the value of your home goes up. But that probably have nothing to do with your proximity to a Gurdwarar.

      Q: what will happen to the value of our homes?

      Probably stay the same. But if they do go down in value (which is a lot more likely to be because of the price of gasoline than the presence of a Gurdwara), then your taxes will go down too.

      Q: why does this have to be made into a religious/racism thing?

      Two reasons why racism was raised.

      First of all, there were several posts that were clearly of a racist nature put up opposing the Gurdwara. This included, amongst others, posts about how Guelph should stay a ‘conservative, white community’ and how people didn’t like ‘having to wade through the stink of curry”.

      Secondly, the arguments being put forward by the opponents seem to be unfounded. The number of 2,000 has been repeatedly thrown around even though both the Sikh community and the city have said that the proposal is for a site that will suite a community that is much smaller. The refusal to accept the assurances of the Sikhs, their architect and the city seems to indicate that there is another reason for the opposition.

      Q: Why do people always have play the racist card when it best suits them and why?

      Actually, the people who have raised the issue of “racism” have mostly been people who have no direct interest in the Gurdwara—one way or the other. This includes the media and other people like myself. As disinterested outsiders it is hard to say just how it “suits” us.

      “Racism” is more than the violent acts of the Nazi storm trooper or sheet-clad KKK member. It also includes unreasonable fear of people that come from a different culture and look different. It also includes an unwillingness to make the normal compromises that people make in their day-to-day life to accommodate one another.

      The extreme emotions that have been expressed on this blog and in other venues over the proposed Gurdwara would seem to some observers as being based on irrational fear of Sikhs. Moreover, some of the angry complaints by “hard-working people” who “pay big taxes” look like they are coming from people who are completely unwilling to accept any inconvenience for the sake of other people—who are not just like them.

      The world is changing. It has been shown time and again that if you build huge tracts of just single-family residential homes that it causes big problems for the greater community. That is why Councils can no longer allow this sort of thing to continue. I would suggest that you try and look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are so afraid of the Sikhs. They are just people like the rest of us.

      • Concerned

        Bill,

        Property taxes rise (even if home value doesn’t change), minimizing tax increases is a good thing.

        Nobody fears the Sikh community, we fear the potential capacity of the temple (at that location).

  6. Lauren

    Hi Colleen,

    I attended the meeting on February 16th, and therefore can answer a few of your questions. Dr. Ravi Rai (Vice President of the Guelph Sikh Society) was asked how and when the temple would be used. He indicated that the temple would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so that people could come and go as they please. But, the following events would represent larger gatherings at the temple:

    1 – Once per week (I think on Sundays) for weekly mass
    2 – The occasional Saturday evening if a wedding is taking place
    3 – Diwali (November 5th)
    4 – One other major Sikh holiday (not sure what it’s called or when it is)

    This is what I recall from the meeting, but members of the Sikh community would know best – so feel free to correct me if I’ve captured anything incorrectly.

    • Colleen

      Thx for the reply, I’m just very upset that, that any type of building is being built on that property.
      I just want to keep our area as a residential area, safe for our children from traffic that will increase
      immensely.
      We bought in this area because of the woods, walk paths, and seeing that there are still working farms. (and we don’t see that anymore)

      • Bill Hulet

        Isn’t that the ultimate tragedy of suburban sprawl?

        Every new subdivision is filled with people who hope against hope that the sprawl will stop with their homes. But the next subdivision always gets built and the natural areas that people enjoyed gets destroyed by their new neighbours—just like their homes destroyed the natural areas enjoyed by the people who lived there before they moved into the area.

        That is why the city has to stop suburban sprawl.

        With regard to your children and traffic—. Many children grow up in city cores. With a little education, I suspect that your children too will learn how to navigate the streets safely whether or not there is a Gurdwara in the neighbourhood.

      • Veronica Stadely

        hahahaha, simply tell your children: look both ways before crossing the street

  7. Paul

    Bill,

    I’ve yet to see an official document stating that the maximum capacity of this facility is for 400 people.

    If the Applicant provides a legal document enforceable in a court of law that assures each resident and the City that the this parcel of land will not see more than 400 people at any given time, it should calm a lot of concerns.

    If something like that was provided, I would be okay with the proposal. Parking would be adequate, and traffic along Goodwin (the road that is a main artery in the neighbourhood) should be minimal.

    Without a document of that nature, the only limiting factor concerning occupancy would be the fire code. If the code determines that the site can see 2000 people or more, then there is no accountability and the reality is, the neighbourhood will have to endure any inconveniences. You have agreed in the past that the parking arrangement would be inadequate for 2000 people and I think that is quite easy to see that.

    If the intent is for 400 people maximum, then a formal document should be easy to draft. So how about it? Does this sound fair?

  8. SPL

    My parents and grandparents and great grandparents grew up on the farm that you are all living on right now. Their farmhouse was destroyed and a fake “replica” was built to appease city planners. It irks me terribly to hear new residents saying it is “their neighbourhood”. No, it is not yours. You are temporary. 10 years ago it was farmland. Some of you will stay a few years, some perhaps 40 or 50 years. But still, you own a little piece of land, you don’t own the whole neighbourhood. And you cannot control what happens on adjacent land that is not owned by the Rieds. The Pergola land across the street is going to be a huge big box development and cars and traffic will be horrendous. You are the newcomers, yet you pass judgement on the next set of newcomers (the Sikhs) and say to them they cannot build. How incredibly pompous and sad that you have moved into a brand new neighbourhood and now want it to stay frozen in time forever to suit your idealistic fantasy, which is an unsustainable form of development. Growth in the southend has never paid for itself, and continues to be a drain on the tax base in the rest of the city. It is only when it is FULLY developed, with more commercial, industrial, institutional and higher density residential that your neighbourhood will truly reach its potential.

    • Ian Bathurst

      Yes, the Pergola lands will be used for big box development. Guess what? I shop at big box stores, so does every single other household in WW, I guarantee it! 100% guaranteed. And also, the Pergola lands are at the corners of Clair and Gordon, meaning they are not passing through residential streets to get to these big box stores. Please, don’t call us “newcomers” and “temporary”, because if you truly are a descendant of the people who owned this farmland, then that also makes you temporary! And how is the southend a drain on the tax? The people of the southend pay more taxes than anybody else!! You think one farm covering this whole area was better for tax revenue than thousands of houses paying $5000 per year? You’re crazy

    • Veronica Stadely

      well guess what buddy, i am a native indian, and i am the original owner!

      • Ian Bathurst

        If you’re a native, you wouldn’t call yourself native “indian”. Where is India? Is it in Canada? No. You wouldn’t insult yourself like that

      • Libby V.

        The early native population had no concept of land ownership. They lived in harmony with the resources, had traditional hunting and fishing grounds, but never claimed to “own” land. Land ownership is a very modern concept, imposed on them by Europeans. Nice try Veronica.

  9. Singh

    John M and SPL, I couldn’t have stated it better myself. This email is littered with exaggerations.

    Churches are built in neighbourhoods but for some reasons Sikh Temples and other religious temples should be kept in industrial areas?

    Perhaps we need to consider other uses of this Temple other than on Sunday mornings for prayer. Just as Legion halls are often located in or near subdivisions, having Temples/Churches located in subdivisions can provide similar benefits.

    Sikh Temples have a daily Langar. A community meal that is provided fresh daily and free of charge to anyone that chooses to attend.

    A community meeting place for seniors from the Sikh community that perhaps need a place to socialize with other seniors.

    To compare this Temple to the Dixie Road location is also ridiculous. Brampton and the surrounding areas contain the largest population of Sikhs in this part of the country. There is no hard evidence showing that this building in Guelph is all of a sudden going to attract thousands of Sikhs to Guelph.

    Kitchener has a Gurudwara and Cambridge is building one within walking distance from a 900 home development less than 5 years old – The Mattamy subdivision on Townline road.

    Further to the points of it’s size. I’m sure it will be seen at tomorrows meeting that the 18,000 being applied for is for future growth. At $125 a square foot (approx)…it would be a tough feet to fund a project this size all in one shot. It is much easier to secure zoning approval now and build in stages over the next decade versus trying to raise $5mil out of the gates from such a small community.

  10. Bill Dunlop

    Actually, she/he is correct. It costs more money to service the fringes of Guelph than the older neighbourhoods, not just downtown. The layout of the streets (cul de sacs and crescents vs. grid pattern), combined with the travel time and fuel costs, combined with the lower density of housing, means that it costs more to pick up garbage, plow roads, etc. in the burbs. The infrastructure to build out the development was not 100% covered by development charges. It was paid for by property taxes from whole city. Just as you are now paying property taxes that will pay for other developments.

    • Bill Hulet

      Just to add to Bill Dunlop’s point, many years ago Council hired some consultants to ask about what sort of development charges the city should be imposing on new subdivisions. (I believe Guelph was the fastest growing city in Canada at that time.) The consultants told Council that if rate of growth continued it would eventually bankrupt the city. As a result, Council dramatically increased the development charges. A secret meeting was held with representatives of the development community was held shortly afterwards and Council reversed itself.

      Guelph managed to dodge a horrendous tax bullet recently by using the federal stimulus money to do a lot of repairs to worn out infrastructure in the older parts of town. A similar hand-out will probably not be forth-coming when the newer areas in town need refurbishment. That’s why the city has to intensify the low-density development that has sprawled all over the South.

      • Bill Dunlop

        Bill Hulet – the development charges have been reversed after a secret meeting???? Please clarify — you must be referring to the PREVIOUS council ? I thought the current council stuck to their guns about DCs this time around and raised them significantly — as much as they legally could in order to try to get growth to pay more of its share of the burden. And even then, it’s still not enough because the province won’t let DCs actually cover 100% of the costs.

  11. John U

    B.H
    You are the perfect example of a RACIST!! (and your followers)

  12. Bill Hulet

    Bill Dunlop:

    Re: Development Charges

    As I wrote, this was many years ago. I think John Counsel was the Mayor at that time. A few years development charges became a moot point because Mike Harris changed the law so Councils couldn’t control growth with development charges and then stacked the OMB with a bunch of turnip-heads who never saw a development that they didn’t like—-. 😦

  13. amrik/bitta/mickey

    looks like everyone is wiser than god(wowguru jee)

  14. guelph south end on wednesday october 31 2012

    • Justin Brody Berry-Gowan 32C Coachwood Road Brantford Video On You Tube Video With Families New Google For New Countries new World Brantfords New Places And More.

  15. Shadaan

    The sikhs are also Canadians, if the spiritual needs of Christian Canadians are met why not the Sikh Canadians. The author is hindu minority and just go to India they allow illegal hindu temples in all corner and nooks. i wonder if this bothered the author when he was living in India

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