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This article was published 21/9/2018 (418 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A group of councillors has voted to support a major expansion of Winnipeg’s first Sikh temple, despite the objections of city planners.
The appeal committee voted 3-1 Friday to approve a $3-million, 21/2-storey, 17,522-square-foot addition to the temple. That will almost double its size to more than 39,000 square feet. The temple is on an unserviced lot on a gravel road in the northwest part of the city near West St. Paul.
The Board of Adjustment approved the project in July. Some West St. Paul residents, who live across the road from the temple, filed an appeal.
"I’m just finding it difficult to understand (how it was approved), West St. Paul resident Nancy Speidel said.
The temple is on a 19-acre parcel of land on Mollard Road, in an agricultural district. While it appears that most of the surrounding land in the city and the RM is vacant, prospects for development are limited. The temple backs onto city-owned land that is designated for the extension of the Chief Peguis Trail. Across the road in the RM, there are 10, two-acre lots on Mollard, which back onto a Manitoba Hydro corridor, where development is prohibited.
Residents said the road is in horrible shape. It is dusty when vehicles speed down it, and turns into a muddy mess during rainfall, they said.
City planner Noah Yauk said places of worship in agricultural areas of the city are restricted to 10,000 square feet, adding the temple is already bigger than the rules allow. The expansion goes against city planning guidelines, which limit such developments to fully serviced land that has paved roads, and water and sewer service.
A report Yauk prepared for the hearing said the city’s emergency services division found the temple’s underground water tank doesn’t meet code requirements for volumes of water for firefighting. In addition, the division doesn’t know how the temple would be able to provide the amount of water needed for sprinklers in the addition.
Temple representatives said the expansion is needed to provide classrooms and meeting space for its Sunday school, and there would be no additional traffic at the temple.
"We don’t have enough space for (the children) to be seated properly," said Varinder Ghuman, the vice-principal of the temple school.
He said the 300 children who attend classes must meet in hallways and stairwells.
The addition would include six classrooms and washroom facilities on the elevated first level, a large meeting hall on the top floor and two meeting rooms in the elevated lower level.
The councillors on the committee recognized the planning department’s concerns but the majority — chairman John Orlikow, Matt Allard and Shawn Dobson — voted to support the project. Only Jenny Gerbasi was against the expansion.
"I’m very conflicted about this application because I think the planners made very good points about how and where we should grow," Allard said, adding he hoped problems identified with the project would be dealt with through the building permit process.
"I’m swayed by the need that this organization is filling in the community."
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.