Muslims in the northern B.C. community of Prince George are planning to build their first mosque — using beetle wood — after years of praying in packed rooms rented from motels and local Christian churches.
More than 200 Muslim families live in Prince George, but the closest mosque and imam are a day's drive away in Kelowna, Ibrahim Karidio, secretary for the B.C. Muslim Association's Prince George chapter, told CBC News.
A Muslim community group bought the approximately three-acre parcel of land at 5th Avenue and Foothills Boulevard in downtown Prince George in 2004, and the city agreed to rezone it, Karidio said.
Since then, Prince George's Muslims have been raising money to build their first mosque.
"We're hoping to build on this site by the end of the year. [It'll be] the first Islamic centre in northern B.C.," Karidio said.
Mosaddaque Ali Sheikh, who moved to Prince George 10 years ago, said the only places to pray back then were homes and motel rooms.
"Things change in 10 years. We have a bigger community. People from all over the world are here as Muslims," Sheikh said.
The city has several churches and two Sikh temples, but not a mosque.
Karidio said Muslims have been praying together in a downtown Christian church, kneeling side-by-side on carpets and sheets they bring from home.
The new mosque will be made of the region's dying pine trees, Karidio said .
"We'd love to use the beetle wood, and we think about green energy to heat up the building — biofuel, of course," he said.