French day care on thin ice
"At this point I think we've overstayed our welcome in Northern United Place by two months," says Garderie Plein Soleil representative Lucy Austin.

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 08/98) - The city's only French language day-care centre has won a minor victory in its fight to survive.

On Monday the president of the Garderie Plein Soleil asked a city committee to fast-track a zoning change that would allow the centre to set up a new home.

"If this doesn't work for us we're closing," a tearful Suzette Montreuil told the community services committee.

"We'll be forced to leave Northern United Place and my children will be forced to go into unregulated day care."

Garderie Plein Soleil has applied to have day-care centres included as permitted uses in commercial service zones. The centre wants to establish a permanent home in a building at 4100 Franklin Ave. now zoned for commercial services.

The building used to house Above and Below Sports.

Day-care centres are currently not excluded by the designation, but, as conditionally permitted uses, are subject to a more arduous approval process, including notification of adjacent property owners and council approval.

For Garderie Plein Soleil, the only difference between the two that matters is time.

"At this point I think we've overstayed our welcome in Northern United Place by two months," said Garderie Plein Soleil representative Lucy Austin.

Austin and Montreuil told the committee they have until the end of next month to come up with an alternative to Northern United Place.

Montreuil argued day-care centres are already subject to regulations that more than address the concerns the city might have the idea of running a day care in a commercial services area.

After considering a number of alternatives, committee members agreed to a solution proposed by Mayor Dave Lovell to include day care as a permitted use until the zoning is changed as part of a general review of the city's zoning bylaw.

But city clerk Tim Mercer said that meeting the May 31 deadline for the change would require a speedy and smooth review.

Assuming no representations at the public hearing and a two-week turnaround at MACA, which is unusual, council could be able to give third reading by May 25, Mercer said.

City council will consider the committee recommendation Monday.

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