Temple hopes to build 10-storey Buddha statue

A massive $50-million transformation of Richmond’s Lingyen Mountain Temple into a pivotal North American religious centre-complete with a 10-storey statue of Buddha-could begin as early as December.

“This will go a long way in promoting Richmond as a multicultural community,” said Kabel Atwall, a development consultant handling the proposal.

If the project meets final approvals from the city and the Agricultural Land Commission, eight or nine new buildings will be constructed, including a giant temple hall.

At 140 feet high, the main temple would house a massive statue of Buddha and rival heights of high rises in Richmond’s city centre.

Its architecture would be similar to the existing temple’s at No. 5 Road and Williams Road, characterized by its great orange sloping roofs.

The proposed temple complex would dwarf the current buildings and more than triple the current floor space with a proposed 131,700 square feet of construction.

Other buildings will serve as smaller temples and dormitories for male and female monks.

The complex is proposed for a site directly south of the current structures on the same 20-acre lot. Newly purchased property, sandwiched between Fantasy Gardens and Richmond Bethel Church, will either serve as a parking lot or farmland for the temple.

Temple goers have farmed the main property since the first temple was built, harvesting mostly vegetables, apples and pears.

The towering Buddha the temple hopes to build will reflect the significance of the building, said Atwall, as the continent’s centre for worshippers. It would be a hollow copper design and gold plated. The temple’s current statue of Buddha is significantly smaller at 15 feet tall.

“The idea is when you see Buddha, you are awed by it,” said architect John Ho.

Lingyen Mountain Temple, which has 5,000 members and 38 resident monks, celebrated its grand opening in 1999. Last year marked the end of a second construction phase.

A public information meeting last month attracted over 250 people. Atwall said most of the 200 comments were positive.

Lingyen Mountain Temple is part of the Pure Land Buddhist sect. Local worshippers are followers of a monk who established a temple in the rugged mountains of Taiwan over 20 years ago.

Tin Ma, executive officer of the temple’s preparatory committee, said despite the proposed size of the development, large crowds are only expected for three main events throughout the year: Chinese New Year, Buddha’s birthday and the Vegetarian Festival.

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