It took longer than expected but work will soon begin in Delta on what will become the largest mosque in B.C.
Approved by Delta council in early 2005, with a groundbreaking several months later, a 25,000-square-foot mosque for the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam will be built on River Road early next year, according to Rizwan Peerzada, president of the faith's Surrey-East chapter.
"It will start pretty soon now. We are dealing with a number of contractors and we are negotiating with them some final numbers, so we feel this project will be done professionally with the best people," Peerzada said.
Peerzada added that the delay in getting started was due to a number of issues that had to be sorted out with the Corporation of Delta as well as finding the right builder, but things are back on track. It's expected the mosque could be completed as soon as late 2009.
"We're looking forward to servicing this community with a beautiful structure," he said.
To be called Baitur Rahman, or House of Gracious God, the overall facility will be bigger than 25,000-square-feet once a community gymnasium is added to the site at 9750 River Road, said Peerzada.
"It will be for the community where children can come and play basketball and it will be open for everyone, not just our community members.
"The mosque will have a front structure, which will be the prayer area, and behind it will be the gym," he explained.
The local Ahmadiyya Movement chapter purchased the land in 1995 and has been using an old elementary school building on the site as its place of worship.
When the project was originally submitted to Delta, one of the major stumbling blocks was the municipality's instance on certain road improvements to handle additional traffic volume.
When the issue was resolved in 2005, Councillor Bruce McDonald apologized to mosque members that the process took longer than anticipated.
"The mosque will be an impressive addition to the area," he said at the time.
The new mosque will be similar but smaller in scale than a stunning 48,000-square-foot mosque the Ahmadiyya opened in Calgary this summer.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in the unveiling of the Baitun Nur mosque, Canada's largest mosque complex.
The $15-million cost for the northeast Calgary facility was paid for entirely by the members of the local Ahmadiyya community.
Peerzada said the Delta mosque would also be a grand structure that will overlook the Fraser River.
"You can also see the beautiful structure from the Alex Fraser Bridge. We're very excited and we hope to build more smaller worship areas where people can come," he said.
"We want all people to come. We want to create dialogue and bring harmony and commonality together, and this mosque will bring that commonality and we would allow other faiths to worship in our mosque."
The faith has branches in more than 178 countries with a membership in the tens of millions.
The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was established in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the small village of Qadian, located in the Punjab, India. The Ahmadiyya are a controversial sect in Islam because its members believe that Hadharat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet, while most Muslims claim Mohammed was the last messenger of God.