The city of Edmonton is looking at ways to ease a shortage of daycare spaces downtown where parents are reporting waits of two years or longer. 

Suzanne Maclean

Oliver Centre executive director Suzanne Maclean says a lack of affordable space has prevented her from opening downtown. (CBC)

Suzanne Maclean, executive director of the Oliver Centre, says she has 300 people waiting for 58 spots. The shortage means that some parents call before their baby is born.

“Usually the parents will call us as soon as they have conceived, as soon as they get  positive test results for being pregnant,” MacLean said.

“We usually will get the phone call to say — can you please put me on my waiting list?”

Maclean wants to expand downtown but a lack of affordable space has made that impossible.

“We have actually been trying to get space for many years, affordable space,” she said. “There has been space out there that's just beyond our reach because of pricing.”

Mayor Don Iveson says this has to change so downtown can be seen as more family-friendly.

He says the city has ways to encourage developers to provide space for a daycare in new projects.

Don Iveson

Mayor Don Iveson says the city can make design changes conditional on developers setting aside affordable space for daycares. (CBC )

“When they come to the city looking for a little bit of extra height or a change or a customization, traditionally what we've asked for is things like public art, things like that,” he said.

“But in this case what might be more valuable than a sculpture is a bay in the main floor that has people coming and going, has kids in it, and ensures that there's reasonably affordable childcare.”

Council is expected to have a report from city administration by October.