The St. George and St. Paul The Anchorite Monastery has been approved by Red Deer County for a site, about five kilometres east of Red Deer, just south of Highway 11. (Photo contributed)

The St. George and St. Paul The Anchorite Monastery has been approved by Red Deer County for a site, about five kilometres east of Red Deer, just south of Highway 11. (Photo contributed)

Coptic monastery approved in Red Deer County

Monastery to be located just east of Red Deer

A Coptic monastery has been approved for a site just east of Red Deer.

On Tuesday, Red Deer County council unanimously approved the monastery, to be known as the St. George and St. Paul The Anchorite Monastery.

The monastery, about five kilometres east of the city just south of Highway 11, will be part of the diocese of Mississauga, Vancouver and Western Canada, according to information provided to the county. Coptic Christianity originated in Egypt but now most adherents, which number in the millions, live elsewhere, including an estimated 35,000 Canadian Copts.

The website for the church says the monastery “will bring the authentic monastic life that was established by St. Anthony The Great in Egypt (270 AD) to Western Canada. The monastery will provide a variety of spiritual and social services to the Coptic and Christian communities of Western Canada.”

The first phase of development is expected to include a private chapel with a 50-person capacity and accommodations for seven residents. A dormitory for temporary stays of up to a week will also be built to house 20 to 30 people a week in the summer and 10 to 20 people in the winter.

A second phase would see additional residential quarters built for three more residents. The dormitory would also be expanded.

The third phase will see the church expanded to accommodate 150 to 200 people.

The monastery, dormitories, chapel and other church buildings will be located on 24 acres of the 144-acre parcel. The remaining 120 acres will remain as agricultural land under the direct control zoning planning staff proposed for the project.

Some concern was raised earlier by neighbours and the group behind the monastery met with them since the project first came before the county in early May. As a result of those meetings, the proponents agreed to remove wind energy and a campground from the uses that would be included in the county approval.

Coun. Connie Huelsman was pleased that those behind the monastery had reached out to neighbours to address any concerns. “You can see that they are wanting to work well in the neighbourhood.”

Councillors had asked previously how the property would be taxed given its religious connection. The church and its parking lot are tax-exempt but the visitor, monks and bishop’s quarters and a portion of the dining halls will all be subject to normal residential taxes.



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