Hamilton’s Downtown Mosque needs to raise $3 million in the next two days to close a land deal for a new mosque and community centre and it's appealing to the city's Muslim community to make it happen.
It is hoping 3,000 Muslim families will step forward with $1,000 each to help it close the deal by the Oct. 31 deadline.
The mosque, which has a dire lack of space for parking and prayer at its current location at 96 Wilson St., needs $4 million to buy land at the corner of York and Hess streets to serve its growing congregation. So far, it has $1 million.
The mosque needs to move, said Wahed Al-Jabry, a board member for the Downtown Mosque. The current building is in disrepair, and so small that Al-Jabry once arrived late for Friday worship and had to pray on the stairs. He has faith they can raise the money.
“The biggest confidence I have is in God,” he said. “People say I’m crazy, but I know that God will help us get the money.”
The mosque has served the city's central Muslim community since 1992 and boasts a membership of more than 5,000 people.
Space has been an issue for the mosque since at least 2004, when it began looking for alternate land. It hoped to reach a deal for land behind the mosque, but found itself in competition for the site with Hamilton Police which wanted it for a storage facility. The police service acquired that site in 2010, but it still sits vacant.
Now the mosque has its sights set on 221 York Blvd., former site of a fitness club and food store. Soil remediation is done, and the mosque has until Oct. 31 to finalize the deal.
The 0.6-hectare (1.56-acre) property has space for 110 parking spaces, compared to the 25 or so spots at the existing site. The existing building on the site is 35,000 square feet. Eventually, mosque officials plan to build a new facility with prayer space, a community centre, a daycare centre and an immigrant welcome centre that would include translation services.
The mosque’s move would be a loss for Beasley, said Sylvia Nickerson, past president of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association. For years, the association lobbied for the mosque to get the land now owned by the police.
“To displace a site where hundreds of people come and go all the time with windowless walls seems like a really bad idea,” Nickerson said.
“The human activity developed by the mosque and their community spirit has definitely been a positive influence.”
Mosque officials have been busy making presentations to members of the broader Muslim community to try to raise the money, Al-Jabry said. The downtown mosque congregation has high numbers of refugees and newcomers to Canada, many who move on to other communities to find work. So mosque officials are appealing to Muslims as far as Toronto and Alberta to help raise money.
"Everybody knows Hamilton's downtown mosque," Al-Jabry said.
The current building is leaking and in poor condition, and too small to hold the hundreds who show up for prayers. Al-Jabry hopes that combined with help from financial institutions, the community will provide.
“I’m going around every single corner to make sure we raise this money,” he said.
Donations can be made at HSBC Canada at 40 King St. E. The bank code is 016, the transit number 10322, the swift code HKBC CATT. The bank account is #322-077397-080.