GALEN EAGLE | QMI AGENCY
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Proposed wind farms in Cavan Monaghan Township and the City of Kawartha Lakes could derail plans for a $40-million Buddhist retreat currently under construction near Bethany.
“We are offering a meditation centre for people to come to as a retreat. How can we do this when there are huge wind turbines in the neighbourhood whirling away?” said Diane Chen, property development and special projects manager for Cham Shan Temple. “We believe in energy. This is upsetting the Chi of the whole place.”
The Buddhist Association of Canada’s Cham Shan Temple began purchasing a number of properties in the Bethany and Pontypool areas 20 years ago for the purpose of constructing four Buddhist gardens.
Each garden would feature a main temple, each with its own set of smaller temples, modelled after the four great Buddhist mountain sites of China – Wutai Shan, Putou Shan, Omei Shan and Jihua Shan.
Construction on the centrepiece of the project – the Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden – is well underway at the Cham Shan Temple’s 530-acre property.
The completion of the overall project over the next two decades will cover about 7,800 acres of land and cost more than $40 million, Chen said.
But while the main temple has gone past the point of no return, the future of the rest of the project is uncertain in the face of several wind farm proposals in the area, Chen said.
One proposal in particular calls for at least four industrial turbines to be installed nearby.
“Our plan was to make our site an attractive site where people can come and admire the architecture,” she said, noting when people take just a short drive from their property, they will see the massive turbines.
The temple’s leaders invited representatives from Kawartha Lake’s city council and Cavan Monaghan Township council to view the area in question, and plan to make a presentation to Peterborough County council next month.
Cavan Monaghan deputy mayor Scott McFadden has long said municipalities have little power to fight unwanted wind farms despite promises made by Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli in May to give municipalities a greater say over the location of new wind and solar farms.
McFadden has been hosting weekly town hall meetings on the topic, featuring residents from other communities and their David and Goliath experiences fighting wind farms.
He said it would be a travesty if the province’s Green Energy Act were to kill the fulfilment of the entire Buddhist project slated to bring millions of dollars in tourism revenue to both municipalities.
“We’re horrified at the prospect of a provincial decision that could potentially devastate a plan 20 years in the making,” he said.