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Richmond Buddhist monastery re-applies to build statues, parking lot

The religious institution on the Highway to Heaven needs permission from the Agricultural Land Commission for any improvements to its property.
Thrangu Monastery on No. 5 Road.

Eight religious statues, a produce stand and a parking lot – this is what the Thrangu Monastery on the Highway to Heaven wants added to its property.

The Buddhist monastery on No. 5 Road is re-applying to have these erected on their property after a previous approval for them lapsed due to inactivity.

In 2017, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) the statues and parking lot to the Thrangu Monastery property. Because the property is located in the Agricultural Land Reserve, it's subject to approval from the provincial body that oversees farmland.

They were supposed to be built within three years, but according to a city staff report, the previous applicant didn’t let the property owners know about the time limit and therefore the ALC said a new application is needed now.

The staff report notes the application is largely similar to the one approved in 2017.

Before the ALC will consider the application, it has to be supported by Richmond city council.

The application is on the agenda for the Jan. 10 planning meeting.

Richmond’s Highway to Heaven policy allows religious institutions to be built on the westside (“frontlands”) of properties on the condition the backland portion is farmed. City council recently removed educational uses from the Highway to Heaven policy, following an application from a non-religious private school, Pythagoras Academy, to build a new school on a property they had purchased.

An agrologist’s report notes the backland portion of the Thrangu Monastery property is actively being farmed with greenhouses and an orchard with 150 trees (part of the orchard is on a neighbouring property).

Its current farming operations are maintained by the monastery society, however, according to the agrologist’s report, the farm portion might be leased out to someone else.

Only produce grown on the property will be sold at the proposed produce stand.

The eight statues, called “stupas,” will have a maximum height of about 12 feet.

The area where the parking lot would be built is currently an overflow parking lot. If approved, Thrangu Monastery would create 54 parking spots.