ONTARIO, CANADA, June 26, 2019 (York Region): As long as the Hindus can see the temple, they can pray. Richmond Hill resident Rathy Ponnampalam worries that the Ganesha Hindu Temple on Bayview Avenue would become invisible from afar as highrise condos have been proposed in the neighborhood. Richmond Hill council was considering raising the maximum building height from 10 storeys to 14 storeys at a vacant lot near the temple and a public meeting was scheduled a week later to receive comments, the notice reads. Two 14-storey mixed-used apartment buildings are planned for the northeast corner of the busy intersection, together with 97 townhouses of varying heights along the two major roads, according to the proposed development. The two corner towers are expected to be as tall as 153 feet, far exceeding the Ganesha Temple which is about 72 feet at the highest point.
Kidambi Raj, a senior member of the trustee board of the Hindu Temple Society of Canada, who attended the public meeting with other concerned citizens on June 19 said he was appalled at the fact that the developer came up with the new plan with no prior consultation, and urged council to turn it down. The five intricate towers on top of the white temple, known as Gopuram, act as beacons for devotees from afar, allowing them to pray or meditate in preparation for their entrance into the temple, he added. “We are not anti-development protesters,” said R.K. Moorthy, past president of the society. “To put structures 14 or 15 storeys high in the middle of an idyllic environment eclipsing the elegance of our towers and the majestic appearance of our temple is not something we can accept on behalf of thousands of our devotees.” Council agreed to take their concerns into account in the review of the 14-storey application. But it’s unlikely the height limit will go lower than 10 storeys due to a previous OMB ruling.