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French group to create second daycare to handle growing Francophone community

Sarah Vennes-Ouellet, president of Centre Éducatif Pomme D’Api, spoke to city council on March 11 about the discretionary use application the educational organization submitted to convert a single-unit home at 333 Ominica Street West into a daycare/pre-school.

Moose Jaw’s growing Francophone community will soon have access to more daycare spaces as a French organization expands its existing child-care venue by nearly 30 spots.

Sarah Vennes-Ouellet, president of Centre Éducatif Pomme D’Api, spoke to city council on March 11 about the discretionary use application the educational organization submitted, which would convert a single-unit home at 333 Ominica Street West into a daycare/pre-school called Le Petit Pommier. 

The home is zoned as an R1 large-lot, low-density residential district, where daycare centres and pre-schools are discretionary use. The organization plans to renovate the interior, maintain the exterior and demolish the detached garage for four staff parking spaces.

Following the presentation, council unanimously voted to approve the application.

Zeljka Zivkovic, the director of Centre Éducatif Pomme D’Api, was also present. 


The existing daycare in École Ducharme School at 340 Ominica Street West — which opened in 2007 — offers 28 child-care spaces and is across the street from the home, while the proposed daycare would offer another 28 spaces — 10 toddlers and 18 pre-schoolers — and open in November, Vennes-Ouellet said.

The organization submitted a community needs assessment report to the Ministry of Education last spring asking for more spaces, and in October, received approval to expand, she continued. 

“There is a high demand for Francophone child-care spots. We have very long waitlists that the current location cannot accommodate,” Vennes-Ouellet remarked. “… (this) is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention and action.”

If families do not have access to a French-focused daycare, that undermines the preservation of the language and culture, she continued. Furthermore, families need access to a licensed Francophone child-care venue since it builds cohesion and contributes to the community’s richness and diversity.

There are 70 Francophone families on a waiting list, although there are more who want to join, said Vennes-Ouellet. While the organization prioritizes French residents, if there is space, it will also accept English families.

“The spots can be filled easily, especially with a subsidized grant. There is a high need and high interest,” she added. 

The organization’s next step is to acquire a building permit, while it is already working with consulting firm 1080 Architecture to prepare renovations and ensure all licensing and bylaw requirements are met, Vennes-Ouellet said. 

The firm will work from May to September, while the daycare will purchase furniture and recruit four staff members — an assistant director and supervisor have already been hired — in October before opening registrations in November. 

The daycare has suggested several ideas to address the expected traffic concerns, she added, including:

  • Locating staff parking away from pick-up and drop-off areas
  • Applying to city hall for a mid-block crosswalk 
  • Applying for an in-front loading zone 
  • Installing bike racks for parents 
  • Putting a crossing monitor at the nearby intersection
  • Asking for a speed-limit reduction to 30 km/h from 40 km/h 

Reducing speed limits

Coun. Doug Blanc asked city administration about the daycare’s suggestion of reducing the street’s speed limit. While he wasn’t opposed to that, he wondered — if the request was successful — how that would affect other school zones, parks and playgrounds in the community.

Bevan Harlton, director of operations, replied that with the completion of the new transportation master plan, one recommendation is to reduce speeds in those areas to 30 km/h. That is something administration will bring to a future council meeting.

Loading zone or crosswalk

Coun. Jamey Logan wondered why the council report said the daycare could have either a loading zone or crosswalk but not both when both would benefit the area.

Michelle Sanson, director of planning and development, said the lot isn’t wide enough to accommodate both options, while there isn’t enough property setback space to install a crosswalk and meet transportation regulations.

Blocking driveways

Another daycare in Moose Jaw is frustrating some homeowners because parents’ vehicles block area residents’ driveways and prevent them from going to work in the mornings, Blanc said. However, he didn’t think that would be a problem on Ominica Street West. 

There are no street driveways, and while residents use alleys to access their proprieties, there won’t be any drop-offs or pick-ups in the back, Vennes-Ouellet said. Instead, there will be a loading zone in front, while parents with school-age kids can park across the street.

Furthermore, it’s unlikely that daycare kids will need to attend the school because the new child-care centre will be a standalone operation with its own fenced outside play area, she added. Even taking the kids across the street to the playground is considered an off-site excursion and requires parental approval.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, March 25. 

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