Saint John council axes daycare rezoning for proposed Starburst Lane site

Click to play video: 'Plan to move Saint John daycare halted'
Plan to move Saint John daycare halted
WATCH: A plan to move a Saint John daycare won't be going ahead. City council rejected the plan after hearing from local residents who opposed the move. Zack Power explains – Feb 7, 2023

Saint John Common council in New Brunswick has voted against a rezoning bylaw allowing the Butterflies and Bumblebees Daycare to move into a neighbourhood on Starburst Lane.

At a public hearing, residents on both sides made their case, with the council getting the final say.

A petition bearing dozens of names helped fuel the argument against the move to the residential neighbourhood on the town’s West Side. Residents say the street has a large number of children who live and play there, and an increase in traffic would cause a safety concern for families.

Residents also voiced worry over parking and drivers’ difficulty in turning around on the dead-end street, which would require pulling into an adjacent driveway.

Resident Gordon White has been living in the neighboring house for 40 years and said the move wouldn’t allow him to send his grandchildren outside without worry.

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Gordon said that he and other residents feared for the safety of children. Zack Power / Global News

“I’d be terribly afraid of letting my grandchildren go out onto this driveway,” White said in an interview with Global News on Tuesday.

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“They come out in the summertime and draw and ride their bikes; I’d be pretty nervous about someone being in a rush and running over my grandchildren.”

He said that 10 of the 14 homeowners on the street showed up, with many of them showing their displeasure with the rezoning application.

Click to play video: 'Federal legislation aims to fortify national child care'
Federal legislation aims to fortify national child care

At the meeting, the daycare’s owner became emotional as her proposal was met with opposition from those in attendance.

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Her building is up for redevelopment, and she pleaded that land behind the property would allow more play areas for the children and open the doors to more space for the daycare.

Multiple parents who currently send their children to the daycare in Saint John wrote letters to City Hall saying that the need for daycare spaces is immediate. They said squashing the rezoning would mean that some 61 families on the waitlist would be left without a space for their child.

“I’m very lucky to get the spot that I did have for my son,” stated parent Jennie Stout on Tuesday.

“I was on the wait list; I called when I was pregnant and only got in here because someone had left.”

She said that she has called all the daycares in the city and has been unable to find any vacancies. She said she is running out of options for child care in the city.

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