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Penticton  

Daycare centre approved

After months of waiting, a daycare operator will be able to open a centre in the south end of Penticton.

Council approved a zoning application to allow the daycare at 96 Yorkton Ave., with an amendment that restricts hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"I think council looked at the fair bit of development in the area and the fact it was located near a busy park and beach," said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. "And, if we are giving the opportunity for the economy to grow, we need affordable daycare."

Coun. Campbell Watt was the only one to vote against it, while Coun. Max Picton abstained due to a conflict of interest.

The decision was reached following a packed public hearing, at which daycare operator Tina Bootsma discussed reasons for bringing a daycare to the location, hours she plans to operate and that 20 children, aged 30 months to five years, will attend.

Neighbours opposed to the zoning change from residential to commercial addressed council, as well as young families who say there is a need for daycare in the city.

Resident Albert Croney, who lives directly behind the site, said it would detract from the ambiance and tranquility of the neighbourhood. Others expressed concerns about traffic, and the noise from children playing and cars coming and going.

Several said a daycare does not belong in a residential area and that there are other places in the city better suited to such an operation.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed told them to deal with it and embrace change.

Young parents described being on long waiting lists waiting to get childcare and suggested many of those opposed are snowbirds who only live in the city for six months of the year.

Parent Tina Zumpano, who attended the meeting with her young son Mathias, said it is important to think of the daycare as an asset to the community.

Bootsma is relieved that everything is falling into place.

"It has been a struggle, and a very emotional one as well," she said. "Part of what we will be working on is that we do get along. It's a change and hopefully everyone will accept it, especially as soon as they see the little children."

Bootsma said she is hoping to open the daycare July 1, but she still has to apply to the Ministry of Health and deal with a building permit for change of occupancy.

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