Donors, officials and community members gathered in Montreal last week for a status report on the construction of Canada’s first indoor city and activity center for children with special needs.

Occupying some 26,000 square feet and offering therapeutic and recreational facilities, the Friendship Circle of Montreal’s new Friendship Centre and LifeTown is modeled on the LifeTown center in suburban Detroit developed by the first-ever Friendship Circle, a Chabad-Lubavitch organization that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs.

According to people involved with the project, construction “is in full swing” at the center following a groundbreaking last year. The Friendship Circle of Montreal, which was founded in 2001 and comprises volunteers from some 35 high schools and universities in the area, has embarked on an $8 million capital campaign to fund the project.

A grand opening has tentatively been scheduled for February 2010.