After 10 years of delay, $10 million Guelph Sikh temple is under construction

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

After several delays over the past 10 years, a Sikh temple in Guelph should be completed and open for worshippers early next year, says the city’s Sikh Society.

Spokesperson Dr. Ravi Rai says carpets, stairway railings and segregation walls have been ordered and should be installed in the next three weeks.

It’s been a decade since the building was approved, but progress was hindered by delays that included changing builders after the project started and a challenge from a residents’ group trying to block construction of the temple located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.

Back in 2010, a group called Westminster Woods Residents’ Association began mounting an Ontario Municipal Board challenge against the building of the, but the challenge never came to fruition. The group cited inadequate parking on the temple site, traffic hassles, and architectural asymmetry from the surrounding homes.

The Sikh community was optimistic the project would begin shortly after the challenge was dropped, but designing, planning and weather challenges caused additional delays.

Funding was also an issue and Rai says they turned to their local community and beyond, collecting donations from Toronto and the GTA.

Construction costs have ballooned since the original estimate. In 2009, the projected cost was approximately $5.5 million. However, as prices increased over time, construction doubled and is projected to cost approximately $10 million, Rai said.

Despite the hurdles, Rai says there’s one thing that empowers the team to keep pushing through toward the end of the project – the dream to “create a purpose-built Sikh temple that will serve many generations to come.”

Guelph has a population of more than 500 Sikh families. The new temple will feature a school, sports field, hall for events, kitchen and other spaces.

The building is made with stone and steel structures and it resembles a ship.

Rai says the design idea symbolizes “a ship carrying everybody together irrespective of caste, creed or religion.”

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