No go for proposed childcare centre in Port Coquitlam strip mall

A last-ditch attempt to figure out how a childcare facility could open in a Port Coquitlam strip mall failed this week.

A last-ditch attempt to figure out how a childcare facility could open in a Port Coquitlam strip mall failed this week.

Coun. Brad West asked council on Monday to return the application to his smart growth committee — for a third time — to see how an outdoor playground and other outstanding issues could be fixed.

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Willowbrae Academy has worked with the city since July to start a franchise in part the old Canadian Tire building. Its rezoning application called for a centre, on the west side of the building, for up to 136 children plus staff.

Laura Lee Richard, director of development services, and the committee have repeatedly rejected the bid.

On Monday, two area daycare operators told council they're not near capacity and demand for childcare isn't high.

John Minelli of Willowbrae Academy disagreed. "I get calls every day from parents who want this [business] open," he said.

Councillors Glenn Pollock and Laura Dupont sided with the academy, saying competition is good, the company model is sound and new residents — especially those moving onto Burke Mountain in Coquitlam — will need childcare.

But Coun. Dean Washington said sending the application back to committee would, in his view, "prolong the inevitable…. I don't think there's an alternative to where to put a playground of that size."

Mayor Greg Moore and Coun. Mike Forrest agreed, noting the planned scale and location of the operation — next to the Shaughnessy Street underpass and beside the CP Rail tracks — was wrong.

The recommendation for refusal resulted in a 5-2 vote in favour.


In other PoCo news:

Commuters may soon see digital billboards on city land as they drive along highways in Port Coquitlam.

On Monday, council voted 5-2 to allow the large signs on municipally owned property as well as have advertising around sports fields and ball parks.

The move is intended to bring in more cash for city coffers, said Laura Lee Richard, director of development services.

Mayor Greg Moore and Coun. Laura Dupont voted against three readings of the sign amendment bylaw.

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