City council approves Meadowvale Mosque

Mississauga, September 18 (CINEWS): As expected Mississauga planning committee approved a re-zoning application that will allow the 12,000-square-foot proposed Meadowvale Islamic Centre.
The Planning and Development Committee meeting held on September, 21 was scheduled to begin at 7 pm but from 4.30 pm itself, supporters and opponents of the project started to form groups outside the council chamber.hearing By 6 pm the crowds began to swell, residents opposed to the project stood around in small clusters speaking softly among themselves, they were outnumbered by the Muslim supporters of the mosque.
At 6.45 pm the people were allowed inside the chambers but it quickly became clear that there would be a massive overflow and so eventually there were four committee rooms and the hundreds more watched the dramatic and emotional televised proceedings.
At the meeting it was learnt that significant changes to the project had been made in order to satisfy the concerns of residents in the neighborhood- the height of the minaret was reduced from 27 metres to 20 metres and the height of the dome from 18.6 metres to 15 metres. The issue of shadowing was discussed and residents’ fears of were assuaged.
Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito asked  some tough questions centering around parking, pedestrian safety given the number of schools in the area as well as traffic congestion.
In an interview with Can-India Abdul Moid, Trustee of the Meadowvale Islamic Centre stressed that the peak volume would last just 2 hours on Friday afternoon. Furthermore he reiterated the City of Mississauga Corporate report clearly stated that significant traffic impact was not anticipated as the existing road network is expected to have sufficient capacity.
According to Moid, there was a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunications. For one there will be no Islamic School and neither will the premises be used for holding other events, this is something that few believe to be the case in the future.
Can-India spoke to opponents of the mosque who were resigned to the idea of the mosque being approved but insisted that it was important that their voice was heard. Many of these residents have lived in their homes for more than 30 years very few homes come up for sale here because there is a genuine sense of community. All this is threatened as now many are making plans to sell off and move as they fear the changes that will come in the years to come.
At the hearing, Councillor Saito asked Amir Syed, president of the Islamic Centre’s board of directors if he’d be willing to work with her and the community to figure out an alternate location to which Syed responded that they’ve tried to find another suitable location and have not been successful. The delays have gone on for 13 years.
Residents opposed to the project resented the way they were being portrayed as racist or even Islamophobic. “We’d oppose even a Catholic church of that size on that location, and I am Catholic,” said one resident. “We’ve seen and heard reports about traffic chaos at mosques in other neighborhoods. The area already gets so much traffic and the propose mosque is coming up bang opposite the Meadowvale Town Centre,” she added.
Other residents spoke about the areas demographic slowly changing over time and that pressure would increase on them to move out eventually.
Residents stressed on the point that they respected the Muslim community’s need for a place of worship, but thought that their neighborhood was just not the right place for it.
Part of the statement put out by Councillor Saito said: I fear for the safety of the pedestrians that cross the intersection daily and will now have serious conflicts with turning traffic. This is a real situation today and an increase in traffic will only make it worse.
Good planning looks at all sides of an issue not just the numbers. Communities are people not numbers and the wellbeing of the people of Ward 9 was not fully considered in this decision. The residents who will be faced by a large busy building 25’ from their homes will be the ones who will be impacted yet their needs were not at the forefront of the decision.
This was not about religion. It was not about the need for a mosque. The community recognizes that need and supports it. I recognize the need and support it and I have tried to find a more suitable location for the facility. The issue was location and impact and this is simply not the right location for a facility that will generate such a high amount of traffic.”
There are a few more hoops to be passed before construction begins. On October 9th council will meet to ratify the decision and it remains to be seen if residents take up the matter with the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) But most believe that at the most taking the issue to the OMB would merely delay the outcome.
Privately many councillors concede that it was not the right spot for a place of worship but are unable to do anything as long as the promoters satisfy the requirements and regulations.

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