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Neighbours rally to nix planned daycare in north Port Coquitlam

PORT COQUITLAM — The rezoning bid for a proposed 65-space child care centre in the middle of Grant Avenue was voted down.

Port Coquitlam needs more daycare spots.

But a recent bid to rezone a property for a proposed child care centre didn't fly this week for homeowners living on Grant Avenue.

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, city council voted 5-1 against the application from the Kallu Family Childcare Society after one of the longest public hearings seen in years.

Nine neighbours came before the podium to oppose the plans for a new two-storey 65-space daycare on land that was previously used as a licensed community care facility.

Coun. Glenn Pollock was the only supporter while Mayor Brad West was not present at the council meeting.

In turning down the proposal, council went against a staff recommendation, as well as committee's decision from Sept. 5 that allowed first and second bylaw reading.

The application for 1948 Grant Ave., which would have seen 24 infant/toddler spaces plus 41 preschooler spots, was deemed too big for an institutional use mid-block on a residential street.

Neighbours said Grant Avenue already has traffic concerns and the addition of a daycare would add noise and environmental pollution, and affect property values.

Others said that because of its location, and on a street without sidewalks, the proposed daycare wouldn’t be a good fit and make the area unsafe.

"It will make it a less comfortable place to live," the first speaker told council.

"The sense of community cohesion that we have cherished will slowly erode due to parking disputes, disagreements among neighbours and the increased number of unknown people in the area," another speaker continued.

Residents also raised concerns about the lack of parks nearby and the presence of wildlife.

Council reaction

Councillors praised neighbours for coming out and making their views known.

"We have not had that many people out for a public hearing for quite a long time and I think that says a lot about what is taking place," said Coun. Darrell Penner, who chaired the meeting for Mayor West.

Still, "I have to say there were comments that I don't agree with at all: I don't believe property values are going to drop," Penner added. 

"I don't believe the bears are going to eat the children…. I've seen that happen where, quite frankly, people kind of stretch things to get their point across."

Coun. Dean Washington said he was concerned the rezoning bid didn't trigger a traffic study while Coun. Nancy McCurrach said such a report wouldn't have mattered.

She visited the site and pictured herself dropping off a child with a buggy.

"There’s just no where to go," she said. "You're right in traffic and right away that was like, 'I don't think so….' To me, it was dangerous."

But Bruce Irvine, Port Coquitlam's director of planning and development, said if the rezoning proceeded, Kallu would be required to raze the existing home on the double lot and sink hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve part of the street and the home frontage.

He also noted that Kallu adjusted its architectural design following comments at last month’s committee meeting.

Coun. Paige Petriw thanked Kallu for making the design changes, but "the street is definitely not obviously suited well for anything other than residential housing."

And she encouraged Kallu to find another site in the city.

"There is a spot in Port Coquitlam for that daycare," Coun. Steve Darling added.

Under the Child Care Action Plan that was adopted in May 2021, the city is targeting 145 more child care spaces each year.