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Port Coquitlam reverses vote on Grant Avenue daycare

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West brought back the 65-space daycare application that was defeated 5–1 following a public hearing on Oct. 10.

Port Coquitlam city council flipped its vote for a proposed daycare on Grant Avenue tonight, Oct. 24, vowing to look at safety concerns on the residential street before the rezoning is adopted.

Although the bid was not on the council agenda for discussion Tuesday, Mayor Brad West brought back the application that was defeated 5–1 following a public hearing on Oct. 10, and following comments from the community about the need for more childcare spaces.

West used Section 131 of the province’s Community Charter to reconsider third reading to rezone 1948 Grant Ave., where the Kallu Family Childcare Society wants to have a 65-spot daycare.

His motion, which passed unanimously, calls on city staff to study what’s needed to give traffic relief on the street for the future daycare — specifically, to figure out where the children will be dropped off and picked up at the centre, and what street improvements are required to make the area safe.

A report from the planning and engineering departments to provide options will come before city council before the final bylaw reading.

In the hour-long discussion before some of the participants of the public hearing, who live on Grant Avenue, West said public hearings do not provide the full picture for council in its decision-making: Not everyone feels comfortable presenting in public and not everyone can make the meetings.

“It’s not representative of the broad opinion,” he said, adding, “In this matter, it’s very clear and evident that there’s a need for childcare spaces.”

West also dismissed concerns that a daycare would decrease neighbours’ property values.

And he said every rezoning bid that comes before council has the same issues: traffic congestion and safety concerns for residents.

“There is no doubt that there are issues on Grant,” West said, commenting on the number of legal and illegal suites on the street and the home-based businesses, including an automotive repair shop.

“There should not be that number of vehicles populating the public boulevard.”

West, who was away at the time of the public hearing, also rejected concerns that 65 parents would be showing up at the same time; he said drop offs and pick ups tend to be staggered for daycares.

And the mayor pointed out that the daycare operator would be licensed by Fraser Health, which has strict guidelines for the safety of children — especially when they are outside.

“If we’re of the opinion that this street is so unsafe, that it cannot have a daycare on site, then we have a much bigger problem. Why are any children being raised on this street?” he asked.

West said council owes it to the Grant Avenue homeowners and the applicant “who has invested a significant amount of effort to achieve something positive for the community” to address the traffic problems.

Councillors said they look forward to seeing the safety issues addressed on Grant Avenue.

“There are ways to make it work,” Coun. Nancy McCurrach said of the daycare.

Under the current zoning, the property could accommodate a daycare for 25 kids, said Bruce Irvine, PoCo’s director of planning and development. Previously, the home was used to support people with mental health challenges.