Lavington resident Dave Pope chained himself to a tree in the park across from the local elementary school Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in protest against use of park space for the construction of a child care facility. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Petition against North Okanagan daycare up for discussion

District of Coldstream councillors to consider petition signed by 184 area and non-area residents

A petition, signed by more than 180 people, will be presented to Coldstream councillors Monday night (Aug. 24) in hopes of stopping construction of a new building in a Lavington park.

The document was signed by area residents from Lavington (73), West Coldstream (18) and non-residents (93) against the District of Coldstream building a new day care facility in Lavington Centennial Park.

District of Coldstream councillors will determine the next steps at tonight’s meeting which starts at 6 p.m.

Council will consider the petition and could advise the petition organizer “that no action will be taken at this time,” or as the staff report reads, “council could direct staff to make changes or stop construction of the Lavington Park project.”

But as construction has already begun, and the project is 100 per cent funded through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, district staff does not recommend this option.

Crews began clearing space for the new facility Thursday, Aug. 6, but were met by a solo protester who chained himself to a tree in demonstration of his opposition of the project’s location.

READ MORE: WATCH: Lavington man chains himself to tree as crews clear space for child care centre

The District of Coldstream announced it received a $637,800 grant from the province April 24, 2020.

The money, funded by the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, would go toward the building of a new facility that would open 32 new childcare spaces for those ages 0-12.

Following a formal needs assessment which examined childcare in the City of Vernon and District of Coldstream, the results pointed to a shortage of childcare. This was presented to district council in March.

After the grant announcement, residents voiced their concerns regarding the location across social media, while Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick told the Morning Star on April 30, the new centre was a “win-win.”

The new facility doesn’t affect taxpayers as it is provincially funded and the operators, Maven Lane, are a non-profit organization, the mayor said.

“What we’re bringing is a small parcel of land,” he said, of the park. “A fairly unutilized parcel.”

The daycare is slated for the north-east corner of Lavington Park, facing School Road near Lavington Elementary.

But residents still voiced concerns and started petitions online and in paper against the use of public greenspace for child care services.

“Kids are good users of parks,” Mayor Garlick said. “I think daycare is a good use of that park.”

The facility will be around the size of a small house, Garlick said. A small outdoor play area will be fenced off for children’s safety.

“Once people start using it and see the benefits of it,” he said. “I think it’s healthy for the community to draw in young families.”

READ MORE: Petition says ‘no’ to new Lavington daycare

READ MORE: Coldstream to get 32 new daycare spots


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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