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City hall could mediate dispute between homeowners and daycare

Northwest Child Development Centre on 679 Hall Street West wants to expand its operations, but nearby homeowners are concerned.
An example of a daycare. File photo

City hall will attempt to resolve a dispute between homeowners and a nearby daycare because the number of vehicles visiting the business is affecting the homeowners’ property.

Northwest Child Development Centre on 679 Hall Street West submitted a discretionary use application to city hall asking to expand its child-care business into an adjacent multi-residential at 1089 Seventh Avenue Northwest. 

The current daycare has reached capacity, while there is a “huge waiting list” of children, the application said. The new daycare would house 30 children in kindergarten and grade school. 

Daycare centres are discretionary in the R1 large lot low-density residential district since they could conflict with permitted uses in some circumstances, a city council report explained. Council reviews discretionary use applications individually to prevent land-use conflicts.

The application came to council’s Oct. 12 meeting, where council unanimously approved the request. Before that occurred, however, council heard from homeowner Monique Lafontaine, who lives on the corner across from the existing daycare.

“I’m already negatively impacted by the size of that business because they block our driveway — especially in the wintertime — while people do prime pickups and drop-offs because they have an entrance on Seventh Avenue,” she said. 

“For us, the idea that they’re going to expand their location and have an additional 30 parents dropping off and picking up, it means we can’t enjoy our property.”

The daycare says it has outgrown its current space, but Lafontaine was concerned about what happened when it outgrew the new building. She wondered if that venue would continue under the discretionary use approval if a commercial operation took over.

The daycare has grown to the point where it no longer fits into the neighbourhood, she continued. If this were a bed and breakfast that wanted to expand, she wondered if council would approve its growth plan even though that business would essentially be a hotel. 

“We’ve got a lot of traffic, congestion and noise pollution during peak times on our street. Just letting them expand is going to increase that and make safety concerns and degrade our property,” Lafontaine stated. “If I can’t get in and out to work, that’s not fair to me.” 

Added Lafontaine, “It’s a rather scary thought that you can’t use your home the way everyone else in the neighbourhood can. (This is) great for the business, but negative for us.”

Crystal Kober-Mccubbing, the daycare’s executive director, appeared by video and explained that the business has attempted to combine kids into cohorts to keep them safe during the pandemic. The new building would house the school-age kids, so there is no cross-contamination with the kindergarteners. 

“I will not have any more staff than I have now. The kids are going to move from one building to the next, which is the biggest game plan of it all,” she continued. 

While the application says there is a waitlist for kids, the daycare will maintain the same number of kindergarteners while adding four grade-school kids, Kober-Mccubbing added. Meanwhile, there are parking stalls in the rear so parents can drop off their grade-school kids there.

“I’m always about communication and trying to make this work for everyone,” said Acting Mayor Dawn Luhning, noting there must be some way to fix this problem, such as redirecting traffic to the new building, putting up no-parking signs or preventing vehicles from parking on that street.

City hall could bring together the homeowners and business to find ways to address the problem, said city manager Jim Puffalt. While he understood that daycares are important for the community, it’s not fair that the homeowners’ driveway is blocked. 

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Oct. 25.