Saskatchewan

Garage may soon become prayer space for Muslims in Regina's north end

Muslims living or working in the north end of Regina may soon have a new place to pray. An application brought in front of the Regina Planning Commission on Wednesday night would rezone a detached garage at Sheppeard Street and 6th Avenue North, and the city says it backs the plan.

City planners hear call for detached garage to be used five times a day for prayers

A garage in the north end of Regina could become a prayer centre for Islamic daily prayers. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Muslims living or working in the north end of Regina may soon have a new place to pray. 

An application in front of the Regina Planning Commission on Wednesday night would rezone the detached garage at Sheppard Street and 6th Avenue North. The city says it backs the plan.

Wasqar Ahsan applied on behalf of the owner, Rana Hamid, the city documents show. 

Hamid has been hosting prays — also known as musallahs — for years, but now wants the garage officially rezoned as a religious institution for communal prayer service. If approved, up to 25 people could pray in the garage at once. 

The owner of the garage was required by the city to post a sign informing neighbours about the plan to develop his garage into a prayer space. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The expansion of the Huda School, just north of the garage, is one of the reasons for the application, city documents show. The school recently bought the land beside it to expand, which also shows the need for more prayer space, according to the application. 

It would be used for daily prayer service, five times a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, the application says. This is in line with Islamic prayer customs. 

Twelve people spoke up about the application, with two against and 10 for. Those against it were concerned about parking, safety and holding religious prayers in a garage. 

While the garage does not have the usual amount of space required by religious institutions, the Regina Planning Commission says it can be approved because of the empty space around it. (Matt Howard/CBC)

People for it said there was a need for a place to pray and socialize, people can walk to it, and there are lights nearby at a crosswalk for safety. 

The city says it is supportive even though there isn't the space for worshippers and parking usually required by a religious institution  because:

  • Many people live within walking distance.
  • It's a corner lot next to a vacant field. 
  • Few, if any, homes will be affected by on-street parking. 
  • Up to three cars can park on the garage's parking pad, which will help keep sidewalks clear. 
  • People won't be in the facility long as prayers are short in length.

The application is a "unique proposal" for the city, documents said, and situations like this weren't taken into consideration under current regulations. 

The Regina Planning Commission is advising the city to rezone a detached garage its owner wants to use as a Muslim prayer centre. (Regina Planning Commission Documents)