The perils of discretionary use

Joan Butler
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A couple of recent council decisions about daycare centres in residential areas in Conception Bay South indicate a need for changes to home business regulations in towns like ours.

Last month, the council approved a daycare centre for Sunrise Avenue in a residential neighbourhood off Tilley’s Road South in Kelligrews. The long-established residential area has seen many new subdivisions in recent years.

At the same meeting, our elected officials refused to allow a daycare centre on Comerford’s Road in Upper Gullies. The area has experienced recent residential growth because of its proximity to the Lawrence Pond Road interchange for extension of the bypass road.

Both are residential areas in the same town, so why is a daycare OK in Kelligrews, but not in Upper Gullies?

The reason for different decisions comes down to the influence of residents in the decision-making process. In both cases, the applications were considered under the town’s home occupation regulations, which give council the authority to use its discretion to approve or reject an application.

The discretionary use provision is common in municipal regulations. It gives councils some flexibility or discretion to approve or reject an application.

In this case, resident feedback influenced the council’s discretion. The Upper Gullies application was rejected because it is not conducive to a residential area. Residents in the area complained about increased traffic, noise and the overall impact on their neighbourhood.

 The Kelligrews application to convert a house for new space for an existing daycare, also in a residential area with traffic and other activities common in residential areas, was approved. The only difference was that there was no feedback or not enough complaints about this application.

I live in the Kelligrews neighbourhood in question, and we have enjoyed a daycare for about 30 years. It provided a childcare space close to home when our children were young and we first moved to the area. We dropped off our children on the way to work and picked them up on our way home. We did not create any extra traffic as we all lived in the neighbourhood.

Today, the daycare is likely still largely used by people who live nearby. A daycare in a residential neighbourhood is usually an attractive feature for young families looking for a place to live and raise a family.  

If the council truly wanted to use its discretion in these cases, they would have looked at both applications and considered all facts. The decision should not rest on lobbying efforts, but on whether daycare centres belong in a residential neighbourhood.  

Decisions such as these two are a testament to why many people simply go ahead and start small businesses from their homes without getting a permit from town. Why risk the rejection of your business because of neighbourhood opposition?  

Coun. Kirk Youden, who agreed with the rejection of the daycare, says we need to incorporate daycare centres into our planning and approval of subdivisions. He is on the right track. That way, those who do not want to live near a daycare can live somewhere else. It will also remove the discretionary power, which the council needs to use wisely.

The change could lead to better planning and regulations so that residential neighbhourhoods can have the services they need.



Coastal Sounds Choir

Coastal Sounds Choir invites new members to join the C.B.S. choir, which rehearses Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Admirals Coast Retirement Centre in Upper Gullies. The weekly rehearsals resume Sept. 11 and anyone interested in singing — no experience necessary — is invited to join the group. Please visit their website at or Facebook at www.facebook/coastalsoundschoir, or email

Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached by email at

Geographic location: Kelligrews, Upper Gullies, Sunrise Avenue Lawrence Pond Road

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Recent comments

  • W McLean
    September 05, 2013 - 16:21

    Why do people think that land use is, or should be, locked down for all time? Things change. Things should change.