I would like to share my views on the application for variance to accommodate a proposed 82 space private childcare facility at 459/461 Sackville St. The matter was heard at the Toronto and East York Committee of Adjustment meeting on April 11, 2018.
The application for variance for the current mixed-use property at Sackville Street and Amelia Street was a contentious one for many in the neighbourhood because it touched on issues of existing childcare availability, child safety, crowding and traffic flow. The application was defeated by unanimous vote of the committee after hearing from a number of deputants in favour and against the variance application.
I have spent my entire career working in areas that support services for children and I am in favour of affordable daycare in neighbourhoods. There were a number of reasons to support the application and these were presented to the committee, but there were also compelling reasons which prevented me from supporting this specific business at this location.
This was not simply a "For or Against Daycare" issue – it was a matter of whether a daycare of this scale could operate safely and appropriately in an urban neighbourhood. I agree with the committee's decision that the application did not meet that standard.
With a proposed maximum of 82 childcare spaces and 16 staff in a property that was not designed to be a daycare facility, many residents in the immediate area questioned the scale of the project and expressed concern for safety and traffic flow. Transportation and City Planning had required that independent studies be provided by the applicant and approved by city staff in advance of any approval but none were submitted.
I didn't agree with all of the criticisms made of this project, but there were valid reasons to be concerned. I personally canvassed many of the residents who live nearby and the overwhelming majority I spoke with opposed this application. I believe the issues of safety and impact on the community are significant.
The applicant had the opportunity to defer the application in order to obtain and provide pick-up and drop-off studies, consult further with the community, or consider changes to the size of their proposed operation but did not choose to do so.
I will support childcare spaces being located within our neighbourhoods, but only when the facilities and scale make sense and can be used safely.