Spiritual centre project rejected by Abbotsford council

Spiritual centre project rejected by Abbotsford council

Proposal inconsistent with several city policies and not supported by province

Abbotsford council is the latest public body to give the thumbs-down to an application to build a large spiritual centre on a parcel of Downes Road agricultural land.

The Gurdwara Sachland Isher Darbar Society had been seeking to build a 22,400-square-foot facility consisting of five buildings.

The site, though, was located in the Agriculture Land Reserve and just outside the city’s urban development boundary.

That and other factors had already led both the city’s agriculture committee and B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture to say they didn’t support the proposal.

The application was also inconsistent with the city’s zoning bylaw, its agriculture strategy, and the Official Community Plan adopted last year.

Council voted unanimously to reject the application. (Mayor Henry Braun and Coun. Kelly Chahal were absent.)

“It’s the location and the timing,” said Coun. Sandy Blue, adding that council would be willing to reconsider the project if it were proposed at another place and location.

Had it been supported, the project would still have needed to be approved by both the Agricultural Land Commission – which generally sets a high bar for allowing non-farm uses of agricultural land – and the Ministry of Agriculture, which had already voiced its opposition to the proposal.

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