As crews cleared space in Lavington Centennial Park to prepare for the construction of a new child care facility, one resident demonstrated his opposition to the project’s location.
“I don’t believe the district should be taking a chunk of green space to put in a commercial business,” said Dave Pope, who chained himself to a tree in the northeast corner of the park Thursday, Aug. 6.
“I see the need for a daycare, I just don’t see the need to put it in a public green space that was donated to the district by the community residents of Lavington to be a park.”
The child care centre will be operated by Maven Lane and comes with support from the Childcare BC’s New Spaces Fund, in partnership with the District of Coldstream. The centre is planned to open in December, providing 32 child care spaces including 12 spaces for infants and toddlers, eight spaces for children ages 3-5 and 12 spaces for children up to the age of 12.
Coldstream’s chief administrative officer Trevor Seibel was present at the park and spoke to Pope as crews worked in the background.
“This project has taken a great deal of care and attention to minimize the footprint in the park,” Seibel said, adding the public’s use of the park won’t change with the arrival of the new centre.
“When council considered the locations this was the one that was the quickest and easiest, and it made the most sense because you’re bringing children to a park,” Seibel said of the location across from Lavington Elementary School.
The process of creating the new facility started after Lavington residents expressed concern to Coldstream council about a lack of child care spaces available in the region, around the time the B.C. government started offering the New Spaces Fund. That grant amounted to $636,800 from the province, the district announced in late April.
In June, a petition was started in opposition to building the facility in the park, which has since garnered more than 800 signatures.
“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/parks without discussion about the land,” the petition reads.
Three trees were removed to make room for the building’s foundation, but Seibel said those trees had been found to be dead or otherwise in need of future removal.
“Whether the child care facility was going to be here or not, those trees were going to have to come out anyway.”
As part of the building agreement, Seibel said Maven Lane will pay a lease fee to the municipality which will be reinvested into the park.