After delays, Yellowknife's new Islamic centre could be ready by next summer

The new Islamic Centre of Yellowknife is expected to be ready in summer 2023. (Submitted by Mike Singh - image credit)
The new Islamic Centre of Yellowknife is expected to be ready in summer 2023. (Submitted by Mike Singh - image credit)

After several delays, Yellowknife's new Islamic centre could open its doors as soon as next summer.

Crews are working to finish the structure of the new building, officially called the Islamic Centre of Yellowknife, in the next few weeks so work on the interior can begin.

The two-storey, 7,500-square-foot centre will include large worship spaces, a youth hall, a library and space for an Islamic school.

Mike Singh, the chair of Canada's chapter of the Islamic Society of North America, said right now, work is being done to prepare the structure for winter.

Submitted by Mike Singh
Submitted by Mike Singh

"Construction season is really short in Yellowknife, so we were really rushing to get the building envelope completed before winter kicks in," he said.

There were some delays with the project, like getting the right materials, he said, adding it was a bit expensive to get them to the city.

Singh said the project was able to start in earnest, which included rebuilding the foundation, in August and September. Then, over the last six weeks, work went into putting together the first and second floors.

"We're at the process now where … we're framing up the final parts of the roof to get it prepared for winterization. And we're going to be putting the siding up on the building and the roofing material up on the building before winter fully kicks in and we're closed down for the season," he said.

"If we're able to do it successfully, then we have some of the winter months to be able to do work inside the building. It's a race against time, so we're hoping we'll be able to do that."

Submitted by Mike Singh
Submitted by Mike Singh

Singh said the goal is to start using the building by next summer, but added "that relies on a number of things going well."

The centre has been a long-awaited project in the community. In 2019, after years of fundraising, it was announced the new centre would be built, and the original hope was it would open in 2020. Yellowknife's previous (and only) mosque was demolished to make way for the new Islamic centre to meet the needs of the city's growing Muslim community.

The construction of the centre is now expected to cost around $3 million to $3.5 million, which is an increase from the previous budget of about $2.5 million.

Kate Kyle/CBC
Kate Kyle/CBC

Singh said the increased cost is due to prices of materials and shipping being more expensive than originally planned for. There have also been some design changes since the original concept, to accommodate timing and material supply constraints, Singh said.

The Canada Community Revitalization Fund, administered by Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), has put up around $687,000 for the centre, which Singh said "really helped kick start the project."

The rest of the project funding is coming from community donations, Singh said, and through his organization's "continued investment into the Yellowknife community."