Buddhist temple

Richmond Buddhist Temple Expands on Skyward Highway

LingYen Mountain Temple will be expanded by over 90,000 square feet with eight new buildings.

After 18 years of stops and restarts in the planning process, construction has begun on a Buddhist temple on Richmond’s Skyward Highway.

But the original plan to expand LingYen Mountain Temple has been cut in half.

In 2014, the proposal was to expand by nearly 200,000 square feet, and the temple was asking to build on the agricultural portion of the property – encroaching over 300 feet into “the backcountry,” which is believed to be actively cultivated.

The plans have been withdrawn and the expansion will be approximately 94,000 square feet and will not encroach on the agricultural zone.

Highway to Heaven spans Route #5 from Steveston Highway to Blundell Road and is located within the Farmland Reserve (ALR). It was created to allow religious institutions to build facilities for worship with the stipulation that the eastern side – the “backlands” – are cultivated.

Many of these religious institutions also include schools, which will no longer be permitted on “assembly” zoned properties in the ALR.

In fact, Pythagoras Academy, a private school in Richmond, bought property on the Highway to Heaven and asked the city about two years ago to rezone it to build a new school there. This was rejected by the city council because the property is zoned for “gathering”, allowing religious facilities.

The city council recently passed by-laws prohibiting any future schools on “assembly” properties located in the ALR.

Parking, building height, reduced residences in the temple plan

While the expansion of the LingYen Mountain Temple building has been cut in half, parking has only been reduced by 15%.

There will be 385 new spaces in a parking structure, compared to the 456 originally proposed.

The “Main Buddha Hall” will be 90 feet high; however, it is 14 feet lower than originally planned.

There will also be fewer nuns and monks living on the property. The original plan was to have 147 people living there with the capacity to accommodate 152 retreat participants.

It is now expected that there will be 60 nuns and monks in residence and between 10 and 70 retreat participants.

The City of Richmond issued a building permit for LingYen Mountain Temple in late June, after which they held a smudging ceremony to mark the start of temple expansion.