Friendship Centre's application for St. John's facility to be voted on today
Marie Ryan speaks on behalf of the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre last week regarding the group’s application to start a daycare centre on Elizabeth Avenue.
— Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
The City of St. John’s planning department is recommending that council reject the
St. John’s Native Friendship Centre’s application to operate a daycare centre in a house on Elizabeth Avenue.
City councillors are scheduled to vote on the friendship centre’s proposal at today’s council meeting.
According to a memo from deputy city manager David Blackmore included in the agenda for the Aug. 19 meeting, city staff’s recommendation to reject the proposal hinges on “the potential for safety concerns with traffic movements along Elizabeth Avenue during peak traffic hours.”
Safety was an issue brought up several times during a well-attended public information session held last Tuesday at city hall. People who live and work in the area expressed concern about traffic congestion and the safety of children crossing a busy road to get to the proposed centre.
The property at 97 Elizabeth Ave. is located across from St. David's Presbyterian Church and Elizabeth Towers.
Pat Sullivan, a resident of Elizabeth Towers, said she and her husband have nearly been hit by traffic while using a crosswalk in the area. Others suggested a daycare centre serving 32 children is an inappropriate use of a residential home not originally built for the purpose of functioning as a daycare centre.
Marie Ryan, who gave a presentation at the meeting on behalf of the not-for-profit aboriginal organization, said its proposal mitigated those safety issues. She said the organization had an agreement in place for staff to park across the street at the church, leaving the six parking spaces in front of the building accessible to parents and caregivers.
The friendship centre executive director David Penner added few people will drive to the site, as the majority of people who make use of the centre’s services do not own vehicles. He said many of the people who will use the daycare centre are students from Labrador attending school in the city.
The friendship centre has two vans it uses to transport its clients, and Ryan said the centre will obtain a third van to transport children if the centre is approved. She also noted the house is on a bus route and close to post-secondary institutions that many of its potential users attend.
Coun. Sandy Hickman put forward a motion at a council meeting last month to reject the proposal after the city received several letters taking issue with the application. Council later agreed to instead defer the matter.