Edmonton

Mosque plan withdrawn in Cold Lake, Alta.

Muslims in Cold Lake, Alta., will have to look for another place of worship as the Municipal District of Bonnyville has rescinded its offer to sell part of its land to the group to build a mosque.

Muslims in Cold Lake, Alta., will have to look for another place of worship as the Municipal District of Bonnyville has rescinded its offer to sell part of its land to the group to build a mosque.

Councillors voted in June to offer the Cold Lake Islamic Society a chance to buy a land in an industrial park for $10,000 — 90 per cent less than the lot's reported $100,000 value.

But after getting calls from residents in the northeastern Albertan town opposing the sale of land at the reduced price, council voted on it a second time

The second time around, councillors voted against the land deal.

Delano Tolley, the only councillor to vote for it, told CBC News that others on council were pressured by ratepayers to change their votes.

He said some residents were opposed to selling the land to the group at such a discounted price, while others brought up concerns about Muslims in their community and the construction of a mosque.

"[The] majority of people were telling [council] that they were opposed to giving a deal … to any church group. [That] it would open the door for any society or non-profit organization to come in and try and get a discounted property which they could in turn, turn around and then resell at a tremendous profit or whatever," Tolley said.

Tolley said a bylaw could be drafted to prevent the group from profiting on the resale of the land.

Ajaz Quraishi, president of the Islamic society, said his group will continue to raise money and try again in the fall —  after the municipal election in October — to purchase some land.

Until then, his group will continue to meet in his house.

"We have been praying in the basement of my house for the last 16 years," Quraishi said.

"Now it's close to at least 50, 60 people."