Dennis O'Keefe — Telegram file photo
The dismissal bell was about to be rung on a proposal for a day care centre on Elizabeth Avenue until some councillors fought for a deferral on the issue during Monday’s council meeting.
The application seeks to turn the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre at 97 Elizabeth Ave. into a daycare centre for 36 preschool children. The site has parking for six vehicles and plans call for three classrooms in the facility.
The proposal received vast opposition from area residents. Letters to council voiced concerns about traffic issues due to children being dropped off and picked up and also a feeling that six parking spaces was simply not enough for a business of that size.
There were also letters of concern about the noise factor that would negatively impact the esthetics and atmosphere of nearby residences. People felt that a residential area might not be the place for such a business.
A motion was made by Coun. Sandy Hickman to reject the application, repeating some of the issues raised by residents of the area as the reasons why. It was seconded, but Coun. Frank Galgay took issue with the swiftness of the rejection.
“I can’t at this time agree with the motion to reject the application,” Galgay said.
“I think we should give some breathing space for (the applicant) to be able to address and look at the objections that the neighbours have put forward.”
Galgay said it’s not unusual for council to defer applications to give people time to gather more knowledge about an issue and address concerns if possible. He also pointed out that many daycares in the city are in residential areas and that there is a great need for more of them in the city.
“Parents of young children are crying out for daycare facilities in the city of St. John’s and there’s a great need for those particular facilities,” Galgay said.
Coun. Bruce Tilly agreed. There was a motion for a deferral that was seconded. This resulted in councillors and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe arguing over whether the issue could be deferred and looking to the city clerk for advice on the matter.
Once it was determined that a deferral was indeed allowed, there was discussion over whether a deferral could be debated or not.
“There is no debate on the deferrals,” Mayor Dennis O’Keefe reminded some councillors who wanted to deal with the application immediately.
The majority of council voted to defer the issue. The application for the daycare centre will be re-addressed during a later council meeting.