The construction of a daycare centre in a North Okanagan park is generating a lot of controversy.
Critics of the project’s location say residents weren’t consulted and they are upset the project cuts into public green space.
Those who opposed the location of the new childcare facility also worry the area, near a railway track, is not safe for a daycare.
The District of Coldstream is currently building the facility in Lavington Centennial Park using a provincial grant of more than $600,000.
The building is expected to be finished early this fall and have space for 32 children.
Lee Bisset is among those residents who believe the centre should have been built somewhere else.
The Lavington resident believes it is not right to use donated parkland for another purpose.
“To take away green space, to me, is absolutely ludicrous in this day and age,” Bisset said.
The municipality’s mayor is defending using the park for a childcare centre.
Jim Garlick said the parcel of land where the childcare facility is being built was originally provided for both park and public use and the daycare centre will fit that definition.
“We see this as a public use. This childcare facility will be owned by the district,” Garlick said.
“It’s a service we can provide out of the park. It’s not a commercial venture. It’s a nonprofit and the service is to provide parents with the ability to have good quality childcare within our community.”
However, critics of the project say the location is wrong as it eats up park space and cuts into the outfield of a well used baseball diamond.
“The more daycare, the more families have the opportunity to bring their child to daycare the better, but they should have had some consultation with the community,” resident Kathleen Ott said.
The mayor admits the district had hoped to do more consultation, but Garlick said the municipality was under a time crunch once the provincial grant was announced.
“We had a time limit that we had to get a request for proposals out and start building,” Garlick said.
“We have to follow the time limits and that took away our ability to really go back and get some more consultation.”
Some are also expressing concern about the safety of the site which is near a loud railway track, busy road and other possible hazards.
“I’m deathly afraid for the kids. With trains being so close to the kids play area that’s just a danger in itself,” resident David Pope said.
Pope also worries that the noise from the trains could potentially cause hearing loss.
Garlick said kids will be supervised at the centre and the daycare will be fenced to try and mitigate any safety risks.
While the project has its critics, others are happy with the location and looking forward to having more childcare spaces in the area.