Salmon Arm council receives request for land for a child-care centre. (File photo) Queen’s Park YMCA Child Care Centre is now offering Preschool program for children ages 3 to 5. (Contributed)

City of Salmon Arm won’t be filling request for land for child-care spaces

Council states no land for such requests, one councillor raises issue of fairness to private centres

A request for city land to house a child-care centre in Salmon Arm won’t be fulfilled.

The city received a letter from Ebony Vardal with the Shuswap Family Centre inquiring about the availability of city land for creating child-care spaces.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond addressed the letter at city council’s May 11 meeting, saying she hoped council could support the family centre in its efforts to start a social enterprise daycare.

However, she and other members of council acknowledged the city does not have the land to provide.

Wallace-Richmond offered to contact the family centre to explain that providing land is not typically something the City of Salmon Arm does, but perhaps the city can offer other supports.

“I think it would be important not to leave them hanging, because some people make the assumption that this is something cities do regularly, and that’s certainly not the case in Salmon Arm. We need to foster that relationship… and maybe we can support them in other ways.”

Mayor Alan Harrison said he had written a letter for Ms Vardal for a grant application, not in reference to the land request but about getting into a daycare.

“This one is more about city land, and we don’t really have city land that would be available for this task, in my opinion.”

Read more: New daycare site proposed for Salmon Arm

Read more: Shuswap municipality receives funding for new daycare

Coun. Kevin Flynn said it’s not uncommon for people to think the city has a land bank, and he acknowledged the need for child-care spaces.

“There are people at the Economic Development Society that feel we should be working on a land bank for non-profits, low-cost housing… So if Coun. Wallace Richmond is willing to take a step and reach out and make them aware we don’t exactly have a surplus of land – I wouldn’t say we don’t have any but i don’t know that we have any for this or if we do have anything that would work.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon raised the question of fairness to private child-care centres.

She referred to a rezoning application received in recent months for a new daycare, as well as a daycare at the west end of town that was supposed to open but has experienced delays. She said even if the city did have land available, she would question if it would be fair as it would be in competition with existing businesses.

“I guess I’m not quite sure whether I would support helping another daycare open up when we have lots of private daycares in our community.”

Harrison reiterated that Coun. Wallace Richmond would be communicating that the city does not have property for use as a child-care centre.

“And your point is a very good point,” he said to Cannon. “We’ve just rezoned property for a private person who’s going to build a daycare…”
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