Calgary considers child care in all city-owned buildings after learning it's not allowed in one

Space set aside for child care in an affordable housing tower owned by the City of Calgary is going unused because the city's land-use bylaw for the area doesn't allow for child care.

Council to allow child care at affordable housing facility, examine expanding it across all city properties

The Lumino building, an affordable housing facility run by the city-owned Calgary Housing Corporation, contains designated space for child care but didn't have the necessary land-use bylaw in place to allow for a child care provider to actually operate in it. (Canam Buildings)

Space set aside for child care in an affordable housing tower owned by the City of Calgary is going unused because the city's land-use bylaw for the area doesn't allow for child care. 

"So, to be clear: We built a building with space in it for child care but we gave it a [bylaw] that didn't allow for child care?" Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

"Oops."

Coun. Brian Pincott said the Lumino tower at 5717 2 St. S.W. — the same one struck by months-long delays because it was initially built without a sewer main — has been without child care since opening in December 2013.

"As we got a tour of the building, we were shown where the child-care facility was going to be ... and it's still sitting empty," Pincott said of the facility, which is managed by the Calgary Housing Corporation.

Council agreed to amend the land-use bylaw governing the Lumino tower while also taking things a step further on the child-care front.

'Bigger conversation'

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the bylaw issue at Lumino "opened up sort of a bigger conversation about the idea that child care is sometimes a tough thing to locate, but it's a really important thing to locate around the city as broadly as we can."

Council voted in favour of a proposal from Carra and Pincott calling on city staff to prepare a report on the potential to allow for space in all city-owned buildings to allow for child-care services, on a discretionary basis.

"I think child care is fundamental to having a successful city," Carra said, adding that the types of facilities he has in mind would have to operate on a not-for-profit basis.

"We don't want to kink the market," he said.

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