North

Whitehorse council OKs daycare facility in former nightclub

Some councillors questioned whether it made sense to allow a daycare in a commercial area downtown, with little green space around.

Council voted 5 to 2 on Monday in favour of zoning amendment to allow development

The proposed daycare would be able to accommodate up to 63 children, and the proponent plans to operate every day, around the clock. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Whitehorse city council has voted in favour of a proposed childcare centre in a former nightclub at the Days Inn Hotel downtown.

After much debate, councillors approved a zoning amendment to allow the childcare centre as a principle use of the site. 

But not all councillors agreed — the vote on Monday was five to two.

Some questioned whether it made sense to put a daycare in a commercial area, with little green space around.

But Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said on Monday that what's important is that parents have a daycare "that you can trust."

"In an ideal world, I would think all our childcare facilities would have easily-accessible and generous outdoor space for the kids to play," she said.

"We don't live in an ideal world. We live in reality, and the reality is parents need to go to work. Parents need to go to work to put a roof over the kids' heads and food on the table." 

Some councilors were still not happy, though, with the amount of outdoor space the daycare will provide.

'Sounds more like a dog run'

"This proposed space sounds, and I don't mean to be facetious, but it sounds more like a dog run than it does, quote — 'a suitable landscape-shaped and -located children's outdoor play area,'" said Coun. Laura Cabott.

Cabott says it's a great spot for a parking lot for a hotel, a restaurant or a nightclub.

"It was never zoned to have daycares there, it was never zoned to have parks there, it was never zoned to have schools there, or children," she said.

But Curteanu stressed there is an urgent need for daycare facilities in the city.

"Based on the 30-odd families that are on this wait list, obviously they trust this facility to be a safe and nurturing environment," Curteanu said.

City officials say the proposed development still needs to conform to additional regulations, including national fire and building codes.

The proposed daycare would be able to accommodate up to 63 children, and the proponent plans to operate every day, around the clock.

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