Ninety-six Yorkton Ave will open as a daycare before the end of summer, owner Tina Bootsma said.
Her next steps include applying for a business licence; reclassify the property’s building permit; and prove to Interior Health that the business will meet childcare regulations. If all goes well, she hopes to see the daycare open as early as July 1, and no later than August. Once Bootsma has more details figured out, she’ll be hosting an open house at the new location.
But first she had to have the property rezoned.
At the regular council meeting on April 7, Bootsma was successful in her bid to change the property’s zoning bylaw, from residential zoning to commercial use, permitting her daycare service out of that location.
Council voted 5 – 1 to make it happen, to which Bootsma was very pleased.
The lone vote against came from Coun. Campbell Watt during the City of Penticton’s April 7 regular council meeting. After a lengthy and impassioned public hearing on whether or not to amend the zoning bylaw, Coun. Max Picton cited a conflict of interest and abstained.
“This will not add in anyway to the ambiance or tranquility to the neighbourhood,” said Albert Croney, who lives directly behind the daycare.
No stone was left unturned during the public hearing.
“The issues raised are parking, traffic, noise, neighbourhood,” said Coun. Tarik Sayeed. “Well in my opinion – deal with it, and embrace the change. And I say this with respect, because Penticton needs your help. So to the neighbours, I say help us.”
“I’m not sure at what point the need outweighs the rights, and to me the rights are of the neighbours and the neighbourhood,” Coun. Campbell Watt said.
Janice Weston, who lives right next door, said that her family sought out a low density zoning lot to fit lifestyle, and bought their property in good faith that the zoning would remain. She said that because Bootsman purchased the property with the intention of amending its zoning classification, it sets bad precedence throughout the city.
But enticing more childcare options in Penticton is a precedent that resident Tracy Van Raes would like to see set, as she said at the hearing.
“Sometimes, what is best for a community as a whole is what needs to be considered first and foremost. Our town is growing, changing, and expanding for the better. We need to foster what stimulates the economic growth and success of Penticton.”
Bruce Barker, who lives on Lee Avenue, said that nobody’s disputing the need for more daycare in the community, but he believes that a commercial property has no place in a residential neighbourhood. And making one exception will lead down a slippery slope.
“Once you open the door for an R01 residential area to get expanded like this, it’s just going to open it up throughout the city as a whole,” he said.
One father who spoke in support of the rezoning said that he’s not sure what “quiet” means in that part of town.
“I can throw a rock from the corner of (96 Yorkton Ave), and I can almost hit a massive 250-unit development, maybe 100-metres away,” he said. “This area has one of the busiest park, one of the busiest lakes, and one of the busiest ball diamonds in the community.”
Concerns were also raised over the daycare having the ability to extend its hours of operation. Bootsma said she only planned on having it open for 10 hours each day, though some neighbours worried about that changing. As a result, the bylaw was amended to give the daycare a 13-hour operating window each day from 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
“That was no problem at all, we never considered being open for more than 10 hours,” Bootsma said.
One neighbour estimated that Bootsma will earn large profits from the venture – more than enough for Kids Connection to expand onto a property that’s already been zoned for commercial use.
Many supporters cited the rates at Kids Connection as reasonable, and Vies Pahlavan, who’s an early childhood educator, said that profiting is the nature of business.
“Everybody makes a living, you have no right to call anybody on that unless they’re doing something inappropriate,” she said. “We need to show support as far as childcare goes. We don’t have enough of it.”
Many parents who spoke complained about the backlog of childcare availability in Penticton, and often cited the economic loss when one parent being forced to stay home.
Anne Hurst, a mother of three who’s faced wait lists in the past, said that Kids Connection is what enables her to go to work.
Another attest to the high demand for childcare came from Tina Zumpano, whose daughter also attends Kids Connection. She feels that opponents are “thinking of it more as a private business and less of an asset for the community.”
In regards to community development, Zumpano was reminded of a proposed halfway house many years ago, which never came to fruition because of a strong backlash by the community. She pondered a reduction in local crime and homelessness had that project not faced strong opposition.