Daycare opts to build in new location
Okotoks: Four homes to be built on former Drake Landing childcare site
Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017 06:00 am
After a seven-year battle, a daycare facility destined for Drake Landing will open in a different location.
In 2010, a development permit filed by Kid’s Stop Children’s Centre was approved to build a facility at 119 Drake Landing Loop. The land was zoned as direct control district by the Town with limited use for daycare. The land use had been approved with the registration of the ninth phase of Drake Landing.
Kids Stop is choosing to open in a new location and the area’s developer is planning to build houses on the site after opposition from area residents lead to several years of court battles and appeal board hearings.
“We decided with all the people against us going in that area we didn’t really want to set up there,” said Kid’s Stop director Sara Gauthier. “If there was that many families who didn’t want us there we didn’t want to go in and have that negative relationship with them.”
Gautier’s decision caps off what was a contentious, seven year process.
Area residents appealed the 2010 decision approving the location to the Okotoks Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, where it was upheld. Residents launched a further appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal, and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board decision was quashed. The decision resulted in a second appeal board hearing in 2013, and a decision issued in October of that year upheld the previous approval with revised conditions. In November 2015, it was appealed in the Court of Appeal a second time and this time the approval was upheld.
At this point, Kid’s Stop had made the decision to open its second location elsewhere.
As a result, Okotoks council passed first reading on a bylaw on Aug. 21 to change the land use at 119 Drake Landing Loop from direct control to residential small lot detached. Four new homes are slated to be built on the site.
Kid’s Stop directors wanted to stay in the Drake Landing area to serve families moving into newly developed and future neighbourhoods in the area. They found a location just up the street from the proposed site instead, she said.
The new location is in a mixed-use district near a condo development and coffee shop, she said.
“The location just works out better for us,” said Gauthier.
Kid’s Stop is currently licensed for 100 out-of-school program children and 40 daycare children at its Westmount location. The new centre in Drake Landing will accommodate more daycare spaces and a few out-of-school spaces to serve the area, she said.
She said the centre should open in early 2018.
Steve LePan, director of sales and marketing for Drake Landing developer Anthem United (formerly United Communities), said the company was pleased to be able to accommodate the daycare in Phase 10 of its northeast Okotoks community.
It fits well into the multi-family site at the entrance to Drake Landing, at the end of Milligan Drive, he said.
“We felt that would be a win-win as opposed to the one location, and still be a way for the daycare developer to be in Drake Landing,” said LePan.
Changing directions to build four homes on the site, which had always been intended as a planned daycare location, was a tough pill for Town council to swallow.
Coun. Carrie Fischer, who sat on the Municipal Planning Commission when the development first came forward, said it was difficult to let the plan go.
“It’s just disappointing, after all the fight to be able to do it, that now it’s gone,” said Fischer. “At the end of the day having a daycare in a neighbourhood seems like, especially pre-planned the way it was, it just seemed like a really good idea.”
She said it’s still positive for the Town to see Kid’s Stop opening a location in Phase 10, but it’s hard to do away with years of work.
Coun. Matt Rockley, who was also part of the Municipal Planning Commission when the daycare site was approved, said losing it after seven years was bittersweet. He said council had the best of intentions in trying to get a daycare facility into a neighbourhood.
“In theory it was so great, and it still is,” said Rockley during the public hearing to change land use. “At the same time, it’s great that there was the ability to get a childcare facility still in the area, close by, in the mixed use development, and the future residents, if this was to pass in those four lots there will certainly have great access to the park across the street.”