Councillors call recess on day care application

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Josh Pennell
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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.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Elizabeth Avenue

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  • David Power
    July 09, 2013 - 14:03

    It is absolutely ridiculous that this council is even having a discussion on this application. This house and all those west of it on Elizabeth Avenue as well as the adjoining streets, places and roads (Alderdice Place, Roach Street, Larch Place, Vaughan Place, Long Pond Road, Darling Street, Downing Street, Rostellan Place and many others) have been zoned as Residential R1 since the homes were built there over 60 - 70 years ago. In recent years there have been a few home businesses approved with the surrounding residents being ok with them as they were home office / business with little if any traffic. However, in that same period there has been major commercial developments and long term care developments that have had a very serious negative impact on Elizabeth Avenue, so much so that it is a total bottleneck all day long and at times dangerous to drive there or even go for a walk because of the excessive traffic, especially on that section of Elizabeth Avenue from Long Pond Road to Portugal Cove Road. To even remotely consider putting a day care centre in that residential home at 97 Elizabeth Avenue is totally wrong as it will just make matters worse. To do so would also put the lives of 36 small children, their parents, grandparents, care givers, staff, the driving public and others at risk and in harms way. To suggest that there is enough space for parking with 6 spaces in not true. To suggest that most people will walk their children to the centre is not true. What will happen during the winter when you have to walk on the road? What will happen when the lot is not plowed? How many staff will be needed to look after 36 children? Where will they park - in the 6 spaces? Where will people drop off and pick up when the lot is full at the peak hours of traffic when it is backed up for up to 1 km? There are many day care centres currently operating in this geographic area (MUN, CONA, Elizabeth Towers, Paton St. etc. etc.) and they are serving the needs of this area quite nicely. If council feels that another centre is needed (Galgay, Tilley and possibly others) have them direct the applicants to a more suitable commercial area (possibly the section of Elizabeth Avenue from Portugal Cove Road to Torbay Road) where the zoning is already commercial not residential or in their own neighbourhood or on their street next to their homes. This area, including this section of Elizabeth Avenue, has always been one of the nicest residential and well kept areas in the city where the residents have taken much pride in their properties and neighbourhood for many years and they have made it quite clear that they wish it to stay that way as they pay some of the highest property taxes in the city. It should be the only decision of every councillor and the mayor to respect the wishes of all the residents and their families in the immediate area who have signed petitions, written letters, sent emails and left voice messages opposing this application and any other commercial application in the future. There is only one way to vote and that is regect this application. We expect council to listen to those who elected them to represent and protect our best interests and to do otherwise would be failing to carry out your civic responsibilities to the taxpayers. Do not begin the commercialization of any more residential areas, especially Elizabeth Avenue.