A ground-breaking ceremony for a $2.5 million new mosque and Islamic community centre in Red Deer’s Timberlands neighbourhood will be held Friday.
“I’m super excited,” said Aamir Hussain, president of the Central Alberta Islamic Culture Association. He believes the construction of this larger community hub will give Muslim families more incentive to stay in central Alberta rather than moving away to larger centres with better amenities.
Hussain expects the 500-person mosque will become a central resource for about 3,000 people in the Red Deer area.
“This will be a space for a lot of programs and activities,” he added, including a women’s centre and counselling service, kitchen for preparing halal food, a gymnasium, library, and in the future, an Islamic school.
Project supporters from Calgary and Edmonton were invited to join locals at the 5:30 p.m. ground-breaking celebration on Townsend Street, near the Timberlands fire hall.
Actual construction is expected to start in a few weeks. Hussain said the mosque and community centre development was already approved by the city and IMC Construction of Red Deer was hired for the project.
The building’s exterior will feature a gold dome and pointed arches, and is expected to be completed this winter, while the mosque’s interior is anticipated to be in use by the end of 2024.
About 11,000 square feet will be developed in the initial phase, while a further 8,000 square feet in the basement can be finished later.
Hussain said this larger mosque is badly needed, since the number of people attending the 50-person capacity Red Deer Islamic Centre in Deer Park grew to about 1,000 members in 2019 after 400 Syrians arrived in Red Deer.
The smaller mosque, built in 1986, will continue operating as a secondary place of worship and as a school after the new mosque is built.
While fundraising for the large Timberlands project began in 2021, the search for affordable land goes back to 2016 or before. Last year’s purchase of a former 1.25 acre, city-owned lot next to the Timberlands fire hall made the project a reality, said Hussain.
He’s happy the site has good access from north and south Red Deer. Once the large kitchen is operational, Hussain noted the Muslim community plans to use it as a means to assist local charities.
“The Red Deer community will be united… and we will also establish more relationships with the (wider) community,” added Hussain. “We will engage with the food bank, women in need, The Mustard Seed…”