The clock ticks louder for a West Shore daycare hoping to receive zoning approval on a new location, as the end of its lease nears.
Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre is planning to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council.
“There are a few key factors that need to be in place to ensure success and safety for the families, staff and suppliers who would frequent the business as well as the surrounding neighbourhood,” said Sandra Russell, communications manager for the City of Colwood, in a statement. “These include things like appropriate lot size and configuration, safe access and egress from the property, adequate parking, building code requirements and other neighbourhood impacts.”
Laura-Lee Johnson, manager of Alphabet Zoo, said one of the major reasons the application hasn’t been approved is because the new location isn’t connected to a sewer line, but she would like council to allow the daycare to open while using septic.
“We were told there are some other pre-approved P-6 locations in Colwood, but most of them are in strip malls or industrial centres,” said Johnson. “We have an acre of land in the forest. The new place we bought is also close to our current location so it’s convenient for parents. It is the perfect spot.”
Another roadblock facing the daycare is that the land is a panhandle lot, which Johnson suspects is an issue due to noise concerns.
“We know there are homes nearby, but we think it is important to have neighbours. That’s how the kids become part of a community,” said Johnson. “We want to raise children that are concerned, involved citizens and that is hard if they are cut off from others in the community.”
A petition has been started by one of the parents who use the daycare, which had received 525 signatures as of Feb. 11.
“It would be fantastic to be in the forest, and part of the community. That’s how we want to proceed. That’s why we bought in Colwood,” said Johnson. “It’s been a frustrating process, and we haven’t felt very welcomed.”
The lease on the current daycare runs out in March, and Johnson hopes council is willing to compromise, in order to allow the new site to open by April. Alphabet Zoo staff will speak to council again at the March 1 meeting via Zoom, where they hope to be considered as an individual case.
Russell said Colwood welcomes daycare spaces and that staff are working to achieve a successful and safe outcome.
“City staff recognize the time constraints regarding the relocation of the day care and are working to forward a staff report to council as quickly as possible,” said Russell.
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