Published on: Muslim Link, April 6th, 2012
The popular Islamic Care Centre has just received the official rubber stamp from the city of Ottawa to renovate its property. The 18-year-old centre at 321 Lisgar St. wants to refurbish the aging facility as well as construct a new building in order to expand services.
“Demand has really gone up,” said Raed Arab, a member of the Centre’s board of directors. “We want to increase our capacity in order to serve more people.”
City councillors met on Mar. 28 at a city council meeting to officially approve the expansion project. Prior to the meeting, leaders from the centre met regularly with the city to explain what they wanted to do.
“The city also wants us to renovate, since our building is getting very old,” said Sulaiman Khan, a manager at the centre. “More people have come to pray, and more families have come to seek out services, so we are also expanding our facility.”
The zoning has already been approved, but detailed plans for the expansion have yet to be completed.
According to the centre’s own literature, the project just went through “Phase 2” of the reconstruction work plan. The next phase comprises of the actual construction.
The centre will use its spacious backyard for the new building, which is set to have four floors and a basement. The basement and main floor will be the prayer halls. The second floor will be a library, the third will be for family services, and the fourth floor will be a set of conference rooms.
“We are going to do some fundraising as well, so we hope the community will come out to support us,” Mr. Arab said. “So far, the response from the community has been very positive.”
The centre’s new building is supposed to accommodate the increasing demand for social services from the Ottawa Muslim community. Counselling for immigrants and young Muslims will form the major focus of the service expansion.
The centre also hopes to develop a more sophisticated library of Islamic literature. For purposes of dawah (calling to Allah), the centre’s leaders say that the current Islamic information centre needs to be expanded.
“The city has been very, very cooperative with us,” Mr. Arab said, “We’ve gone through all the steps required to get approval and we’ve done a lot of talking back and forth already.”
Mr. Arab and Mr. Khan said that getting permission was not the difficult part. Drawing up detailed plans and doing the actual construction will be the project’s most challenging phase.
“Insha Allah (God willing) they are successful,” said Raheel Khosa, an Ottawa resident and a frequenter of the Centre. “I pray a lot at this building, and it’s time for an expansion, since every time I come here I see more people, alhamdullilah (praise be to Allah).”
Over four million dollars is needed to complete the project, which is estimated for completion in the next two years.