Red Deer’s growing Muslim community is celebrating a land purchase for a large new mosque, to be built in the Timberlands neighbourhood by mid-2024.
About 200 people gathered at Festival Hall recently to show appreciation for the long-awaited recent purchase of a former City of Red Deer lot next to the fire station on Townsend Street in Timberlands.
Dr. Syed Amanullah, a local gastroenterologist and member of Red Deer’s Islamic Centre in Deer Park said Red Deer’s deputy mayor, fire chief, RCMP officers, as well as the Turkish consulate from Edmonton were in attendance at the recent celebration for the new lot purchase in Timberlands.
The community had been seeking a bigger lot for a new mosque for years. The population attending the Red Deer Islamic Centre in Deer Park grew to about 1,000 members in 2019 after 400 Syrians arrived in Red Deer.
While existing mosque space in Deer Park became tight so that Friday prayer services had to be done in two shifts, there was a scarcity of affordable alternatives. However, the members of the community recently heard the City of Red Deer had an affordable 1.25 acre site that was centrally located in Timberlands.
Since Islamic prayers are five times a day, it’s important to have a central site that’s accessible to people living on the north and south sides of the city, said Aamir Hussain, president of the Central Alberta Islamic Culture Association, who believes the new lot is ideally situated.
Starting in 2023 and continuing to mid-2024, the community us planning to build a $2.5 million mosque with about 11,000 square feet of space in the first phase. A further 8,000 square feet of space could be developed later in the basement, said Hussain.
The 300-person capacity complex will include a main prayer area, as well as an Islamic school that follows the Alberta curriculum, a gymnasium and other community-use space. Hussein said the ultimate goal is to have room for some women’s programs, including mental health, and space to assist local charities, such as the Red Deer Food Bank.
The new larger mosque will not replace the existing mosque in Deer Park, which will continue to operate, but will relieve some of the space pressures. Hussain said the Deer park mosque will be kept open primarily for prayers and for school.
Fundraising for the new larger mosque has already began, with $1.5 million more needed towards the first construction goal. Hussain said some donations have already been collected from members of mosques in other communities, and a local campaign could soon be started.