MAC Noor Gardens (Phase 1)

The Project Background

The MAC Noor Gardens Project (NG), formerly referred to as the Southdale Project, is an initiative taken by the Muslim Association of Canada’s (MAC) London Chapter to meet the growing needs of Muslim community in London, Ontario. The project commenced in August 2012, marked by the purchase of a 13 acres land off of Southdale and Wonderland Roads. The project progressed to develop the land with services devoted to the growing Muslim community, as well as the larger community in London. The development includes establishing a Mosque, a Community Centre that will host several functions and facilities, office building for rental, green landscape, etc. This page provides a summary of the design, project drivers, social and economic feasibility, the strategy for sustainable operations, as well as providing other information about the project.

HighLights

The city of London, and the Muslim community in it, is experiencing rapid demographics change. However, the social services available for Muslims in London are way behind the growth and requirements of the community, and limited due to shortage of facilities and upfront financial resources. The NG project, under MAC London’s leadership, aims to provide required services and help develop the community effective with the limited resources. While MAC London is campaigning for funding for construction and infrastructure, it has set a strategy to run NG with a financially self-sustaining approach to improve quality, optimize running cost, and generate revenues to cover its operational and activities costs.

Objectives

MAC is a registered non-profit charitable organization and has been active since 1997 with a grassroots approach having 15 Chapters nationally coast to coast. Its value statement is: “To establish an Islamic presence that is balanced, constructive, and integrated though distinct, in the social fabric and culture of Canada.”

Values of the project

MAC NG aims to become a community hub not only for the Muslim community but for all Londoners. It will provide a safe venue for youth and adults alike to participate in informal social activities as well along with learning opportunities. Our core values include empowerment, inclusion, faith, citizenship, and excellence.

objectives1

The Location

The project is located in a strategic area in southwest London situated on 13 acres of land (see land outlined with red box in map below), where it is surrounded by high growth residential and commercial areas. It is strategically located 10KM (15-minute drive) away from both the London Muslim Mosque as well as the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario, in a part of the city where the Muslim community is currently not serviced. The land is accessed from the north directly through Southdale Road, while on the south it will have direct access to Bradley Avenue. The land may also have access on the west side after arrangements with neighbors.

Noor Gardens Location

Recent Nearby Developments

The area around the NG land has seen substantial development since the purchase of the land and start of the project in 2012. The strip mall to the east of the land is now completely developed and occupied by popular retailers. The land to the south of NG has also been developed for various big box stores and popular retailers. Collectively, this junction has now become a major shopping and commercial hub in London.

To the west of the land a vast YMCA facility has been constructed by the City of London to provide amenities for this fastest growing part of the city. NG has already been in contact with the YMCA in collaborating on future community programs. Finally, a 1,300-unit residential development is being worked on immediately west of the NG land. The proposed plan neighboring the NG land to the west (as shown in the image below) calls for six multi-story units contributing to 1,300 residential units, and a three-storey office and commercial building around the existing YMCA facility. These building will be ideal for young professionals and newcomer to London from other cities due to its proximity to the Highway 401.

Noor Gardens close sites

NG Project Team

The MAC NG steering committee heads and manages the different activities of this project. Collectively. This team involves many experts in real estate development, Community Centre designs, project management and construction knowledge. MAC, with substantial prior experience with community centres in most major Canadian cities, has been successful in assembling such highly professional people who are mostly volunteers and work hard to realize the vision of the community.

Noor Gardens Team

Community Proposed Plan

The MAC NG building structure has been dictated by the community’s needs and input. During town hall meetings organized throughout the community, each of the critical components identified were integrated into Phase 1 of this project.

Community Centre

Design Phases and Services

The present business plan addresses Phase 1A (Mosque Multifunctional Facility) of the project. Below are proposed designs for the Mosque Multifunctional Facility. Future phases will address needs for multipurpose Community/Banquet Hall, Elementary School, etc.

Phase 1A (Mosque Multifunctional Facility) – Basement and Gymnasium

Noor Gardens basement and gym

Phase 1A (Mosque Multifunctional Facility) – Main Floor and Prayer Hall

main floor NG

Phase 1A (Mosque Multifunctional Facility) – 2nd Floor and Ladies Space

Noor Gardens basement and gym

Proposed Financing Plan

The project has thus far enjoyed great financial support from the London Community through generous donations in various forms. Moreover, these donations are anticipated to substantially increase once the project breaks ground and the community see visible progress.

There have been three main sources of funds for financing the project thus far. First, the fundraising dinner is held annually during the holy month of Ramadan, and the total donations raised have been as high as $850,000. Second, the Founders campaign is aimed at getting members of the community to become founding supporters by committing to automated periodical donations.  Business sponsorships are the final source of income from local businesses that are promoted through the various MAC community programs.

Although the community has generously supported this project (as shown by the donation numbers), the high cost of the project means relying just on donation funds will take several years to raise, hence, the team has been looking arrange Islamic financing in order to start the project construction.

Value Proposition in Action

Every activity provides value in different domains, but all contribute to the total objectives of MAC London in establishing a Canadian Muslim identity within the blend of larger society, and empowering individuals to become positive doers and valuable resources for Canada. Below are elaborations of the key functions of the project.

Noor Gardens Objectives

Faith and Islamic Identity

Mosque

In line of the larger prayer place, having a well-designed, easily accessed and well-organized Mosque is an important demand and need for the community. It is role can extend beyond Muslim community and would reflect the image that is due for Islamic civilization. It can accommodate more than 1500 worshipers (1000 men, 500 ladies)

<span” data-contrast=”auto”>The community has been seeking a large space to key prayers and celebrations for long time. Such a place shall project the values of Islamic history and civilization over time, and become a space that welcomes neighbors of all faiths interact and learn in an inviting atmosphere. The Community Hall will be able to accommodate more than 4000 worshipers when all spaces are opened to prayer.  NG has also strategically planned for a future Community/Banquet multifunctional facility so that spaces are multipurpose and can be used to generate revenue when not used by the community.  For example, there Banquet hall will predominantly be used by the community during Ramadan and Eid celebrations, but outside of those times it will be rented out to generate revenue. Key success factors: 

  • Qualified multilingual Imam 
  • Large space, accommodating brothers, sisters, and kids  
  • Easy access (parking and entrance) as well as accessibility services 
  • Multi-function facilities  
Large Community/Banquet Hall (Future Phase)

The community has been seeking a large space to key prayers and celebrations for long time. Such a place shall project the values of Islamic history and civilization over time, and become a space that welcomes neighbors of all faiths interact and learn in an inviting atmosphere. The Community Hall will be able to accommodate more than 4000 worshipers when all spaces are opened to prayer. NG has also strategically planned for a future Community/Banquet multifunctional facility so that spaces are multipurpose and can be used to generate revenue when not used by the community. For example, there Banquet hall will predominantly be used by the community during Ramadan and Eid celebrations, but outside of those times it will be rented out to generate revenue. Key success factors:

  • Qualified multilingual Imam
  • Large space, accommodating brothers, sisters, and kids
  • Easy access (parking and entrance) as well as accessibility services
  • Multi-function facilities

Educational Sector

Day Care Service (Future Phase)

Day Care facility play a very important role in the upbringing of children, something that is taken very seriously in the Muslim community. It is imperative for parents in the Muslim community that these facilities provide Islamic core values to children that are also built on and practiced in their homes.

The Day Care service at NG will establish an atmosphere where children will be taught and encouraged to practice Islam in an environment that is no different than their home.

In addition to establishing strong Islamic values, children will also be able to learn Quranic recitation, get practical exposure to the example of Prophet Muhammad, and start learning the Arabic language from an early age. The Day Care activities will be planned by qualified teachers who will provide age appropriate and enjoyable educational programs throughout the day. Strategy for success:

  • Share resources with the rest of facility to reduce cost.
  •  Integrated services
  • Languages: providing multi linguistic programs for early childhood
  • Instilling Islamic values and essential faith concepts
  • Highly qualified and trained team
Weekend School

Weekend school continues to be the main alternative for families who cannot send their children to fulltime Islamic schools. While NG is expecting large number of people utilizing the centre and mosque, it will be part of the integrated services to offer weekend curriculum

Tutoring Services

NG plans to run tutoring services for all levels of classes to help students succeed academically. This service will be set at very reasonable rates so that Muslims and other Londoners can have access to it. This service will completely run by dedicated volunteers from both high school and university.

Quran Classes

NG plans to run tutoring services for all levels of classes to help students succeed academically. This service will be set at very reasonable rates so that Muslims and other Londoners can have access to it. This service will completely run by dedicated volunteers from both high school and university.

Fulltime Private School (Future Phase)

MAC is renowned for running some of the best full time Islamic Elementary schools in almost every major Canadian city. The plan is that in a future phase some of the land will be used to build classroom facilities to establish such a school in London, Ontario.

Sport Services

Sisters’ Exercise Room

The facility will have space equipped with latest equipment, and sisters will be able to enjoy exercising in a private and comfortable setup, while their kids can engage in other activities at the Centre. This has been a demand for long time in the community since most renowned gyms do not offer “women only” space for exercise. Currently, there are several barriers that have kept Muslim women from attending gym. NG exercise room will ensure to overcome some of these barriers by providing private space, training and nutritional support, competitive prices, and programs for their children they can’t leave home.

Gym facility

The gym will be a multipurpose space, and will be easily divided to accommodate various activity groups run for both male and female members

of the community. The gym will provide variety of segregated sport activities which will encourage more women participants in these programs.

Social Services

Event Banquet Halls Services (Future Phase)

Muslim community in London does not have a place to celebrate weddings and important occasions, in which halal food prepared with world class talents with an elegant and distinctive atmosphere that is in line with Islamic values. Its value proposition is based on:

  • Professional services
  • Skilled cooks
  • Competitive price value (price performance)
  • Banquet arrangements for weddings
  • Mixing or segregated services are possible within the general Islamic norms.Have large capacity and yet can still be divided to smaller number of users (can accommodate 750 guests, and possible to divided into three sectors)
Food Services

Fridays and Saturdays are times for families to convene and enjoy social gatherings. This has not been easy to do in the absence of a community-based place. This will be a great location for a Sunday or Saturday family brunches, Friday quick meals after Jumuah (Friday Prayers), or simply sitting with friends for coffee or quick meals. It is made convenient with well-organized open lounges (75 guests, conference/recreation areas and atrium).

High School, University and College Summer Camps

This has been a very successful activity run by MAC for university students, high school students, as well as for children. The camps are run by specialists as well as volunteers and it is a great learning and networking environment that youth can enjoy within a respectful and value driven atmosphere.

Youth

Kids Lounge

For families and specifically mothers to enjoy times together along with kids.

Kids Summer, Winter, and March Break Camps

A very popular program for parents who want their school going children attend camps during March break and summer/winter holidays

Women and Family Support

Mothers play

A designated space for new mothers with infants to enjoy the company of other mothers. Currently, our community consists of new parents who have no family support in Canada. The isolation itself is a huge contributing factor to postpartum depression. This program helps to curve some of these challenges faced by new moms. This group will not only provide a supportive network but will also help mothers to learn from each other, and get exposure to different ways of parenting specifically in Islamic setting. This program will give mothers an opportunity to find new friends and get a break from the isolated home environment.

Children drop in

A chance for mothers to leave their children in the safe hands of qualified helpers when they uses services offered by NG, attend personal and/or doctor’s appointments, run errands or even to have a much-needed mental break.

Sisters and Brothers Halaqas

There will be several activities and study circles dedicated to each each gender. There are various themes that can be covered in such spiritual learning circles such Quranic Tafsir, Prophet Biography, basic Islamic jurisprudence, etc. However, many other interest focused meetings can take place as well (such personal financing, career counselling, etc.), and volunteers who can create new programs will be empowered to establish new activities that are sought.

Community Outreach

Recognition Awards

This is for wider community, appreciating all achievements made by people who have demonstrated exceptional efforts.

Museum of Islamic civilization

This is a new initiative that is being promoted to partners from different Islamic countries.

Food drives and MAC Give

MAC Give is a nationwide program across all MAC chapters aimed at fostering a spirit of giving back through acts of kindness and support.

Open House Days

Londoners will be welcomed to a warm atmosphere to participate in Islamic tours, Q/A session, and enjoy the taste of international cuisines from all over the world.

Volunteering and Youth Empowerment

Volunteering is a core Islamic value to empower and train youth to carry out an important role in the community at large. The NG project revolves around serving the community from within, and doing so while learning, getting trained, and having fun as a team. The NG project works to serve the community from within while providing its volunteers with learning, adequate training and strong team building opportunities.

NG volunteering

Support for the Project

Since early inception of the project, lengthy discussions, brainstorming session, town-hall meetings, and campaigning have taken place to seek support for the project as well as to ensure that it will represent the community in large.

The project has gained support and blessings of different governmental officials, and political parties which include:

  • Matt Brown, Former London City Mayor
  • Irene Mathyssen, Former MP, NDP
  • Peggy Sattler, MPP, NDP
  • Patrick Brown, Former Leader of Official Opposition at the Ontario Legislature
  • Kathleen Wynne, Former Premier of Ontario
  • Kate Young, MP, Liberal
  • Deb Mathew s, Former MPP, Liberal
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