Anti day care petition flawed?

Some downtown residents who signed a petition opposing a new day-care centre in their neighbourhood were misinformed because the petition was…

Some downtown residents who signed a petition opposing a new day-care centre in their neighbourhood were misinformed because the petition was misleading.

Last week, Jarvis Street resident Dean Tower presented the petition to city council.

It opposed rezoning of the residential lot at 710 Jarvis Street to allow its owner, Lori Austin, to open a day-care centre.

The petition had 37 signatures by residents from “almost every household (except for three) within a block of every side of 710 Jarvis,” Tower told council.

But the petition led its signatories to believe if city council approves the rezoning of the lot, it could be flipped for different commercial uses other than a day care.

“(The lot) may be used for other things later on by others,” it states.

“This has a detrimental effect to the values of all properties around.”

This point was emphasized to residents when they were asked to sign the petition, inciting the fear that a different business other than a day care could move in once the zoning amendment was approved, said some residents.

“That is totally wrong,” according to the city’s senior planner Mike Gau.

If the zoning amendment is passed, the only allowable commercial use on the lot will be a day care.

“Regardless of ownership, if this bylaw were to pass, a child-care centre is permitted as a principal use,” he said.

If the lot is sold again, the new owner will have to get council’s approval before turning it into something else.

And that process would also allow for public input.

While there are other reasons for opposition listed in the petition, including increased traffic, noise and the loss of a “sense of community,” it was the fear of having a different business move in that convinced several residents to sign.

Another misperception is that there can be no exceptions made for the single-family detached housing, as supported by the newly created Downtown Plan.

Exceptions can be made, as is outlined in the city’s planning bylaw 2006-01, providing certain conditions are met.

Among these exceptions include bed-and-breakfast lodgings, group homes, shelter services, religious assemblies and child-care services.

“If it tends to emphasize a single-detached housing component of the Old Town, it doesn’t necessarily preclude there being a neighbourhood facility in there because that’s part of a sustainable and complete neighbourhood to be able to provide services to it,” said Gau, adding that he was in no way passing any judgment on Austin’s application.

“Public services are included, (such as neighbourhood commercial) and the odd mixed-use commercial or neighbourhood service might be supported and that’s not banned just because it says, promote the single-detached neighbourhood or dwelling feel of it.”

However, it’s up to the political process and resident feedback to decide whether a particular facility is appropriate for a neighbourhood or not, he said.

A public hearing for the zoning change will be held on August 14th.

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