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After many delays, south end Sikh temple aiming to open early in the new year

Cost of the project has nearly doubled since it started, said Gueph Sikh Society spokesperson Dr. Ravi Rai

After several delays, the Sikh temple on Clair Road aims to be completed early next year.

Although there isn’t a definitive date because of the ongoing challenges, Guelph Sikh Society spokesperson Dr. Ravi Rai says it should open its doors in the first week of 2020. 

“We have completed 95 per cent of the work. There are a few things that are pending,” says Rai about the carpets, stairway railings and segregation walls that have been ordered and are scheduled to be installed within the next three weeks.

The 10-year project has been subject to a number of delays over the years that included changing builders mid-project, handling the challenge a residential group posed to the Ontario Municipal Board to prevent a temple in the middle of a residential neighbourhood and funds.

“We had to raise a lot of funds from the local community, outside the community, from Toronto, and the GTA area. We went to all the cities everywhere,” says Rai. 

Time also played a large role in the cost of the building escalating over the years. When the project was first announced in 2009, the projected cost was assumed to be approximately $5.5 million. However, as prices increased over time, the price of the construction project doubled and is projected to cost approximately $10 million, Rai said.

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

Rai says the Guelph community has a population of over 500 Sikh families who occasionally congregate at the Guelph Sikh Society on 70 Stevenson St but are restricted by the size of the building. 

“We have a small place but we can’t teach them anything. No Punjabi language, no music class, no Punjabi school and no cultural events,” says Rai. 

He says the new building will eliminate these concerns by featuring a school, a sports field, a hall for events, kitchen among many more.

Rai says the building made out of stone and steel structures is not just for the Sikh community, but for the entire Guelph community as a whole, which is why it was made to resemble a ship. 

“Basically, the whole idea was to carry the world. It’s a ship carrying everybody together irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” says Rai. 

“We welcome everyone in there.”