Fort McMurray Hindus face funding shortfall for new temple

Fort McMurray’s Hindu community says it’s building Canada’s northernmost temple in the oilsands capital, but it’s facing a challenge raising the money.

Kalpesh Patel, president of the Sanatan Mandir Cultural Society of Fort McMurray, said the group bought about two acres of land in Abraham’s Landing — an area the municipality set aside for religious buildings — at a cost of about $1.8 million.

The society is in the process of raising the remaining money needed to construct the roughly $4-million Hindu temple and cultural centre.

The 900-member Hindu group currently worships in a basement in the Timberlea area. It has outgrown that space and often holds events in gymnasiums around Fort McMurray.

The new facility is expected to feature 30,000 square feet of space and boast an ornate exterior, finished with white marble or granite.

Several spires will dot the temple, also known as a “mandir,” along with statues of Hindu gods and idols.

Oil price blamed for shortfall 

The downturn in the oil and gas sector means the money required for construction hasn’t come as quickly as members thought, according to Patel.

“We don’t have enough funding available currently,” Patel said. “We are all committed and we are working with our community to [see] how we can fund this going forward.”

The society is planning to hold events and fundraisers open to all. It’s also accepting donations on its website.

The society hopes to begin construction in May 2018 with an estimated completion date in October 2019. 

Follow David Thurton, CBC’s Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitter or contact him via email. 

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