The Muslim Society of Guelph’s vision of constructing a 15,000-square-foot community centre to fill a growing need within the community is coming to fruition.
Ground has officially been broken on the property adjacent to the current buildings on Water Street.
Muhammed Sayyed, president of the Muslim Society of Guelph, said the community is overdue for a multi-use space as the Muslim Society continues to see a steady increase in membership.
Derailed by the COVID shutdowns, the plan for the community centre has been in the works for the last five years.
Sayyed estimates over 1,200 people are a part of the community that donate regularly, and attending members throughout the week has swelled to over 2,000.
The community has grown so much in recent years that the current construction of a community centre is still 10-years ahead of the original expansion plan.
Increased membership has led to multiple daily prayer services, with some Fridays seeing as many as five prayer services held throughout the day.
“When we moved to this place we were hoping it would last us 20 years, but within five years we had to plan for expansion,” said Sayyed. “And now, 10 years here and we are expanding.”
The community centre will be a multi-use area, acting as a gymnasium, prayer area and eventually a place the Muslim Society of Guelph can operate charitable support groups.
As of now, limited space at the centre has led to an agreement with other organizations within Guelph to host soup kitchens and collection of food donations.
When the centre is operational, Sayyed said the Muslim Society of Guelph can once again begin the distribution of needs from their centre.
“Right now we don’t have the space, so that is another thing we are looking forward to,” said Sayyed. “The start of our soup kitchen, our own clothing closet, helping homeless people who need any help. We can provide that help when we have the infrastructure in place.”
While construction is underway, the centre itself won't be usable for at least a year.
Sayyed estimates that a good on-track build would see the foundation, floors and ceiling structure built by the end of the year. The remaining construction inside to build the prayer rooms and outfit the interior is expected to take upwards of another year.
“We have a lot of young members, and they want some place they can hang out, and at the time of prayer go to the prayer. They are our main target audience I would say,” said Sayyed. “During the month of Ramadan we have a couple overnight sessions, and over 100 youth showed up and stayed overnight. Basically, they are the ones that said we need a place we can call home.”