Nuns at the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute say they will decide in the next few days how to proceed with a new monastery in Brudenell, P.E.I., after Three Rivers council denied their building permit for a new dormitory.
More than 100 members of the public showed up for the town council meeting Monday night, which ran for more than three hours. Council voted 7-3 against.
"We are sad and disappointed with the decision, but we will make a decision once we have a chance to absorb the impact and consider the steps forward," said Venerable Angeline of GWBI.
"We have made eastern P.E.I. our home for over a decade."
GWBI has one residence on the property, and were planning to build a second, two-storey residence to accommodate another 176 nuns beginning this fall. It's part of an overall, 10-year plan to build a monastery for 1,400 people.
"We're hoping we can make this place a pride of P.E.I. so people can come and study Buddhism if they are interested," Venerable Angeline said.
We're hoping we can make this place a pride of P.E.I. — Venerable Angeline
Three Rivers Mayor Ed MacAulay said the decision to deny a building permit was the hardest decision the council has had to make so far.
He said the leading concern is about land use, and the continued affordability of land in the area. One of the issues raised is that the GWBI has purchased a number of houses that are now sitting empty.
"The big question was where is it all going?" said MacAulay.
"I think what the public would like to see is to see our council … sit down with the province and start working out some of these land issues and to make sure that, you know, the public, in our area in particular but in other areas as well, has an opportunity to express their concerns."
Venerable Angeline said the nuns "share the same passion for the land" as those expressing concerns.
"We think it will need more communication to clear things up," she said.
"After the decision we have received a lot of words of support from communities and people across the Island, so with assurance that the statements of some doesn't reflect all how Islanders feel about us and our plans."
MacAulay said this is not necessarily the end of GWBI's plans in the area. The town is currently formulating an official plan.
"They will be consulted and they will be a part of that plan as we move forward because they are a part of our community."
More from CBC P.E.I.