Last night, Council received an application for a zoning by-law amendment to permit the construction of a Sikh Temple at 410 Clair Road. The meeting was well attended by members of the Sikh community and the neighourhood around the proposed development. The purpose of the meeting was to receive public input on the proposed development. This input will be reviewed by our planning staff as they consider what their recommendation to Council will on the proposed development. With any proposed development application, concerns about parking, traffic, urban design and compatibility, lighting, and noise, are common concerns raised by neighbours. This application was no different.
What was different were the comments in some of the correspondence received by Council on the proposed development and which have found their way on to various local blogs.
These comments show an appalling lack of respect and understanding of the Sikh religion and for Sikhs in our community.
I don’t believe these attitudes are reflective of our community and as Mayor, and a Canadian, I find them unacceptable.
As a community we have made a significant commitment to welcoming immigrants and new Canadians into our community – to help them settle and integrate into the community and the workforce. We are doing a lot of things right but we know we can do better.
The Local Immigration Partnership is a community-collaboration with the mandate to develop an integrated settlement strategy for Guelph. The work of the Guelph Inclusiveness Alliance, representing numerous organizations in the city, set us on the path towards developing this strategy. The Intercultural Leadership Advisory Board aims to promote a greater understanding and appreciation for the growing diversity in our community. Twenty-one percent (21%) of Guelph residents are immigrants including me. The Guelph Citizenship Committee, of which I am the honorary co-chair, hosts meaningful and welcoming citizenship ceremonies to welcome our newest Canadians into our community. Immigration Services has more than 30 years of service in helping immigrants settle in Guelph. And there is much more.
Unfortunately, we still have work to do to eliminate racism and discrimination from our community.