An old building at a busy corner in Port Coquitlam that's described as an "eyesore" will soon be converted into a childcare centre.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, PoCo's committee of council unanimously issued a development permit to Mara Natha Architecture to change the convenience store at Prairie Avenue and Oxford Street into a childcare facility for 37 kids.
The 8,955 sq. ft. site at 1881 Prairie Ave. is close to another childcare centre currently under construction to the north. The two-lot property is zoned Neighbourhood Commercial, which allows for a facility for up to 50 kids.
According to a report from Bruce Irvine, PoCo's director of planning and development, Tiny Hoppers Early Learning Centre will provide spaces for 12 infants/toddlers and 25 preschoolers, as well as two distinct playgrounds.
The building change comes as the City of Port Coquitlam aims to add about 145 new childcare spaces a year as part of its Child Care Action Plan that was adopted in May 2021.
Along with the building updates and site landscaping (13 new trees and 263 shrubs), the company is also required to do road upgrades along Prairie and Oxford; however, the final off-site improvements will be determined at the building permit stage, Irvine said.
"It's nice to see that lot developed," said Coun. Nancy McCurrach, who called the site "an eyesore."
Mayor Brad West also asked city staff if the applicant considered razing the building and constructing a new one given the area traffic, but Irvine said a renovation would be less expensive.
Coun. Steve Darling suggested childcare operators can tap into federal and provincial funding for new construction.
"There's a lot of money available," he said.
Still, Coun. Dean Washington recommended that council not get involved in the building alteration as the city will gain childcare spots faster.
"It is much needed," he said.