There was a public meeting during Monday’s Council meeting to discuss an application for an expanded residential day care. The ensuing discussion by Council members and staff was interesting, and covered the City’s policies of seeming to be reactive, rather than proactive. This is a great example of difficult decisions that need to be made by our elected officials. Councillor Bookham has provided the following summary and we would be very interested in comments from potential councillors. If you did not previously see the discussion, we urge you to do the research required in order to briefly state the reasons for your decision.
Note from editor: We welcome similar items from all current Councillors in order to stimulate discussion about the reality of sitting on Council. We’ll also post any responses received from candidates.
So You Want To Run for Council….
Although the official campaign period for the 2014 municipal election has not started yet, a number of candidates have declared their intention to run and others are waiting in the wings. As one who has grappled with many issues in the past three terms, I thought it would be interesting to ask would-be-councillors how they would vote on some of the thornier issues such as daycare in residential neighbourhoods.
Last night (Sept. 15), we considered an application to permit an existing residential day care to expand from 8 to 20 children. The applicant currently operates her daycare from her home which is on a 33 ft. lot. Across the street is an elementary school, and within walking distance are a park and recreation centre. The traffic plan indicates that the children would be dropped off in the lane, which is unpaved and dead ends.
In order to provide space for 20 children, the applicant would have to reside elsewhere and both the front and rear yards would be required to provide sufficient outdoor play space. For safety reasons, the front yard would require a five foot fence be built. The house would no longer be a residence, but would operate solely as a business.
Several parents spoke or wrote of the high standard of care provided by this facility.
Immediately beside the daycare, in an identical house also on a 33 ft. lot lives a couple with two children, both of whom are in other daycares. Both parents are working; one commutes and the other has worked from home for the past 10 years. His job requires frequent teleconferencing.
As parents who have relied on daycare for their own children, they have been supportive of the day care next door with 8 children, but are opposed to the expansion to 20 for reasons outlined in the letter submitted to Council provided here with permission.
Before deciding how you would vote, I suggest you read the letter (Little Einstein Daycare) and staff report available here: 2014 09 15 item 07 and review the presentations made by the applicant and members of the public on the video of the Council Meeting. It runs from 2:12 to 3:28: http://www.cnv.org/Your-Government/Council-Meetings/Council-Videos/2014-Council-Videos Items 6-7: Public Meeting: Business Licence Application for a Group Child Care Facility – 549 West 28th Street
Because of the high cost of housing in our community, both parents in most families must work, and thus there is a great need for good quality, licensed day care. Our current policy allows day care for up to 20 children in residential neighbourhoods. In order to secure a business license, the applicant must submit a traffic plan, provide information to nearby residents, conduct a survey to show the level of support/opposition and appear before council at a public meeting, allowing neighbours to bring any concerns to the attention of Council.
Some on Council feel this process is too onerous for the applicant and would prefer to allow staff to issue the business license, which would then be subject to review after a year if there were complaints from the neighbours. The daycare would be allowed to operate for another year on probation, after which the business license would be reviewed again. We will be discussing this policy at a meeting later this fall.
So here are my questions for council and mayoral candidates:
Would you have approved this application or would you have rejected it and why?
Do you support the current policy on childcare in residential neighbourhoods and the approval process that requires a public meeting or the proposed “enhanced” process which would allow staff to issue the business license?
Your comments would be welcome at the policy review in October.
Councillor Pam Bookham