Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling Buddhist centre runs afoul of local residents in Aurora, ON

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This is an old story about the Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling Thrangu Centre in Aurora, ON that started in 2011, but I just found out about it this morning and it is as of yet unresolved. The centre is currently closed except for private students on a limited basis.

From the Aurora Banner – May 2012:

Residents oppose Buddhist centre

Residents near an Aurora Buddhist meditation centre say the facility creates noise and safety issues. The leaders of the Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre at 13900 Leslie St. want to amend York Region’s official plan designation on the 5.5 acres of land on which the centre sits to permit a place of worship, guest house and home to Lama Tashi Dondup. “My concern is about these festivals they have,” said Michael Lebovic, who lives on Bovair Trail, 550 metres from the centre. “Is it necessary? Is there a demand in the community? I am concerned they are being very low key until they get approvals done. I have concerns they will grow in size, frequency and duration. I want to protect my property value.” Festivals at the centre make the area less safe due to increased traffic, Mr. Lebovic said.

FULL NEWS ARTICLE HERE

The original issue was raised in Aurora’s Town Council in a Special Meeting in 2011 and referred to the Ontario Municipal Board. FULL AURORA SPECIAL COUNCIL MINUTES HERE

In September, Town Council announced approval of the Temple’s request for a change in zoning to allow them to function.

From the Aurora Banner- September, 2012:

Aurora Buddhist temple plan won’t impact land

A rezoned piece of land to permit a place of worship on the Oak Ridges Moraine won’t risk Aurora’s ability to protect environmentally sensitive lands. Marco Ramunno, the town’s director of planning and development services, made the assurance to councillors Tuesday night. The general committee approved an application from Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling Centre to amend the official plan for a Buddhist meditation centre north of Bloomington Road on Leslie Street. While the 5.5-acre site is already used as a meditation centre, administrators made the application to ensure they are acting within regional and town rules. Councillor Wendy Gaertner, who voted against the application, raised the issue of redesignating Oak Ridges Moraine Countryside Area to a special area with an exception for the meditation centre. “Are we risking the town’s ability to protect the moraine lands?” she asked. “I don’t believe so,” Mr. Ramunno said, pointing out the change is site specific and the use of a place of worship is already permitted. Residents living near the Buddhist mediation centre previously said it creates noise and safety issues. Gord Mahoney, the planning consultant, advised his clients not to speak to reporters outside council chambers. Mr. Mahoney said it’s his company’s policy not to comment on ongoing projects.

In June 2013, the OMB reviewed the matter but deferred a decision. FULL OMB MINUTES HERE

The temple is located on environmentally sensitive land on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Developers such as Lebovic Homes have been actively pursuing rights to build large communities in the area (just several hundred metres up the road, in fact), dating back to 2008. Their desires have not been without controversy. Here is an article from the Toronto Star from March 2008 on the subject: http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2008/03/02/still_lots_of_action_on_nobuild_moraine.html

By August 2011, the problems in the area were still not resolved, as can be discovered in this subsequent article from the Toronto Starhttp://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/08/10/oak_ridges_moraine_not_safe_yet.html

Now, here is my editorial opinion: I support the protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Temple’s use of their 5.5 acre lot has minimal environmental impact compared to the large scale geo-forming being created by the many new homes being build just up the street, which include a host of infrastructure changes. Building new communities without acceptance of places of worship is counter to the prevailing ethos of York Region Planners. For example, further down Leslie Street between Elgin Mills and 19th Avenue (also on the moraine), developers are building thousands of homes over the next 3-5 years. There are provisions in the plans for multiple places of worship.

On the basis of this, I support the request by Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling for a zoning adjustment. I hope spirituality prevails over development and the NIMBY syndrome.

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