Hamilton politicians approved a rezoning application for the Bosnian Islamic Association to build a mosque on Barton Street in Stoney Creek.
The association is proposing to build the mosque at 208 Barton St. Its current location is an apartment unit at 202 Barton St. The existing buildings at 208 Barton St. will be demolished for the new structure.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Stoney Creek councillor Maria Pearson, who has been working with the association over the last four years on the project. “It’s going to be really a nice structure. I’m thrilled with the project.”
The mosque is expected to include 72 more parking spaces to the west and east of the building, which Pearson hopes will alleviate some of the parking issues that have troubled businesses and residents in the area. She said people attending the centre were using the nearby plaza to park their vehicles. The centre has been in the area at least since 2003, said Pearson.
“When they first proposed the mosque, it was too large,” said Pearson. “But they have worked well with the community and have been very accommodating. They were great.”
The mosque is proposed to be about 70 feet tall, which will include the minaret. Association officials said the minaret will be only ornamental, with no working speakers.
The busiest day of the week for the mosque will be Fridays, where up to 120 people usually attend for prayers. Association officials insisted during the July 5 planning committee meeting that large parties or other events that could overwhelm the local community will not be held at the mosque. Instead, they will hold such activities as garage sales and other small events.
There were some objections from neighbours about the plans. Donna Balcome, of Celtic Drive, who has lived behind the current mosque for 30 years, feared the mosque would attract a large congregation. She also had a concern about the mosque exceeding the 10.3-metre roof line of the surrounding bungalows that dot the area. And she was worried that with a larger parking lot, more vehicles meant more pollution from exhaust fumes.
Balcome said neighbours would be more accepting if a commercial development was built on the property.
Pearson said she held “numerous” public meetings with residents to explain the proposed project.
Planning staff are recommending that a two-metre fence be constructed between the mosque and residences to act as a visual barrier. And further landscaping between the mosque and the homes along Celtic Drive will be completed, said Pearson.
Eno Causevic, who was representing the association, pointed out during the meeting that there is already a pollution problem along Barton Street and a few more cars at the mosque won’t make a large difference.
Causevic did not return News calls before deadline for further comment on the mosque project.
Pearson said the association wants to begin construction “sooner rather than later.” But the centre will have to wait until after the appeal process to the Ontario Municipal Board is complete.
Pearson, though, doesn’t believe anybody will oppose the project.
“There is nothing wrong with this,” she said. “Any problems we dealt with it. This is a very standard project.”