In a field off a rural stretch of Glasgow Street, a decades-old dream is slowly taking shape. There, the Kitchener-Waterloo Islamic Association is constructing what it is touting as the largest Islamic Center in Canada on a 4.5-hectare (11-acre) plot of farmland purchased by the group in 1998.
The first of three planned buildings, a multi-purpose facility, is well underway; officials hope it will be complete in about a year's time. It's expected to include amenities such as a multimedia Islamic library and prayer and gymnasium space. Association vice-president and University of Waterloo professor emeritus Mohamed Elmasry said they'd also like to have an international-sized outdoor soccer field completed during the first phase that could host competitions.
Subsequent buildings will house a mosque and a school, Elmasry said. "The Muslim community in Kitchener-Waterloo is growing very fast," he said, pointing to the recent arrival of Syrian refugee families and large Muslim student populations at local universities as factors in that growth.
The association was founded in 1985. Elmasry said the group has raised more than $2 million since the Islamic center project began, and said they need another $1 million in order to complete the first phase. The subsequent two phases could each cost an additional $5 million to $6 million, he said. The association hopes the entire project can be completed in about three years. Elmasry said the group is looking for donations from across Canada and from graduates of local universities who are now working overseas. The association is also preparing applications for provincial and national infrastructure grants, he said.
Continue reading at: The Waterloo Region Record