Lavington Centennial Park users started a petition to stop the municipality from building a new childcare facility in the north-east corner of the park.
“Do you want the District of Coldstream to take away park space that was donated by a very generous family to put up a building?” the petition on change.org asks.
In only 24 hours, the petition has garnered more than 170 signatures of the 200-signature goal.
“We should not be taking away park space for a building,” the petition reads. “If this goes through, we get to look at a building in our park, see an increase in traffic on our already busy streets and have a government decide, on our behalf, that they can take away our greenspace without a discussion about the land.”
The District of Coldstream announced it received a $637,800 grant from the province April 24, 2020. The money, funded by the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, will go toward the building of a new facility that would open 32 new childcare spaces for those ages 0-12.
The district partnered with childcare provider Maven Lane, who will operate the new facility on the district’s behalf.
Following the announcement, residents voiced their concerns across social media.
Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick told the Morning Star on April 30, the new centre was a “win-win.”
The new facility does not affect taxpayers as it is provincially funded and the operators are a non-profit organization, Garlick said.
“What we’re bringing is a small parcel of land,” he said, of the park. “A fairly unutilized. parcel.”
The daycare facility will be built on the north-east corner of Lavington Park facing School Road near Lavington Elementary.
“What we hope is this will actually benefit the park,” Garlick said. “I think with parks, they don’t just sit there as green spaces, they need to be used as well.”
“Kids are good users of parks,” he said. “I think daycare is a good use of that park.”
The facility will be around the size of a small house, Garlick said. A small outdoor play area will be fenced off for children’s safety.
“Once people start using it and see the benefits of it,” he said. “I think it’s healthy for the community to draw in young families.”
An investigation into the community’s increasing need for childcare began in 2018, sparked by the closure of a facility operating within a church.
An anecdotal assessment was completed at that time, but a formal needs assessment wasn’t undertaken until the district joined the City of Vernon in its Child Care Space Action Plan Assessment in January 2020.
The results, which pointed to a shortage of childcare, were presented to council in March.