Lavington daycare not out of character in park: mayor - InfoNews

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Lavington daycare not out of character in park: mayor

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
July 03, 2020 - 5:30 PM

A much-needed child care facility slated to be built in the north-east of Lavington Park has received over 700 signatures on a petition opposed to its location.

The petition was set up by Lavington resident Robin Eyford June 23 and quickly garnered support.

"(It's) great that there's daycare coming to Lavington, but why build in a park?" Eyford told "We understand that daycare needs to go in, (but) please don't put it in the park."

Eyford wants to open up the discussion with the District about where the daycare should be located and says the park location was decided without "a lot of input from the community."

While the petition is new, the daycare file as been working its way to council for years and the location was voted on and put forward just in time for a grant application deadline in January 2019.

"I don't think it's out of character with the appropriate use of the park," District of Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick said. "It's not a bad thing for the park, parks are meant to be used, and children are good users of the park."

The mayor said the park was the only piece of suitable public land in Lavington and the area of the park chosen for the building was done to have the least amount of impact. The mayor pointed to its proximity to the school and ease of parking as a good location for the daycare.

The mayor wouldn't speak directly about the petition as he said it had not been presented to council.

The daycare, which hopes to open in December and will consist of a 2,800-square-foot building, is set to be built in the northeast corner of Lavington Park. The building will be owned by the District of Coldstream and run by the not-for-profit organization Maven Lane. The child care will have space for a total of 32 children and has been paid for in its entirety by a provincial government grant of $637,000, which was awarded to the District in April. Because the land is owned by the District of Coldstream, its bylaws dictate the plot of land does not need to be rezoned to change its usage from park to daycare.

Eyford, who is a grandmother, is adamant she's not against more daycare spaces but says the building would be better suited elsewhere. She says the park was gifted to the municipality and should not be built on. She points to the Coldstream Women's Institute building as a possible location and asks why the District doesn't look at coming to an agreement with the school district and build on Lavington Elementary School land.

The Mayor said a grant had also been submitted to turn the Women's Institute building into a daycare but this building is 10 kilometres from Lavington Park and is not a suitable site for those living in Lavington.

While the petition says the daycare has been "pushed" through, the District of Coldstream has been working on the file since at least 2018. That December, the District released a survey on childcare needs in Lavington showing a strong need. Another report from the City of Vernon and the District of Coldstream in February highlighted a huge shortage of child care.

The report said in Vernon there were 4,890 children under age 12 and only 1,411 spaces. In Coldstream, there are 1,385 children under the age of 12, with only 256 spaces. While not every child needs daycare, the results are a strong indication of the lack of spaces.

The District of Coldstream originally voted to submit an application for a daycare in the park by the January 2019 grant deadline. This application was unsuccessful and in August 2019 a group of Coldstream residents made a presentation to council on the need for child care spaces and the proposed council took action on creating the spaces. The District applied for a different grant and was successful in April.

Eyford is now looking for community support to prevent the daycare from being built in the park.

"You can only try," she said.

A report from the District says the child care facility will be operated for a minimum of 15 years.

The petition can be found here.

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