Plans for an expansion of the Maple Tree Montessori Daycare show the area, in purple, at the corner of 12th Street SE and Auto Road, where the daycare wishes to use city property for parking. (City of Salmon Arm image)

Plan to use city land for parking for Salmon Arm daycare expansion gets initial nod

Development permit variance for Maple Tree Montessori Daycare to go to Sept. 27 council meeting

City council gave initial approval to parking changes to accommodate 20 more spaces at a Salmon Arm daycare facility.

Harmony Roberge of Maple Tree Montessori Daycare spoke to council’s Sept. 20 development and planning meeting about plans for her daycare at 931 12th St. SE.

The existing house which is used as a school and daycare will be expanded.

Roberge expressed excitement about the project, saying it will be great for Salmon Arm and the neighbourhood specifically.

“These child-care spaces are really needed by the families in our program and our community as a whole. The location is just fantastic…,” she said, noting it is a large lot with an organic garden, chickens, rabbits and more. She said the expansion will bring the outdoors inside, maintaining the daycare’s ‘outdoorsy’ feel.

The program currently has 20 children, which will double with 12 new infant- and toddler-care spaces, and eight others.

While the building addition doesn’t require a variance to zoning, variances were requested for parking. They included an off-street parking variance to reduce the number of parking stalls from 14 to six, as well as waiving the requirement to provide hard surface parking on-site.

City staff said they met with Roberge several times, with the outcome being a tentative agreement to use a portion of Auto Road. Staff said it is not a travel lane, it is surplus road.

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Coun. Debbie Cannon said she drives by there often and regularly sees vehicles parked. She asked if the spot would be for the exclusive use of the daycare. Staff said, yes, Roberge would be responsible for enforcement – putting signs up and monitoring the parking. However, it’s expected the entire piece of road allowance would not be used for parking, just a portion of it.

Roberge said use of city land would allow the daycare to retain the large trees and greenspace on the lot.

The agreement also includes the daycare widening the road shoulders at 12th Street and providing a crosswalk.

Mayor Alan Harrison and councillors expressed their enthusiasm for the project. Coun. Kevin Flynn thanked staff for the creative way a parking solution was found.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said she’s happy the city is not enforcing the paved parking or hard-surface parking.

“I think that for water absorption into the ground this is a better option and I think we need to be looking at more of this moving forward with climate change– limited rainfall, excessive rainfall, sort of alternating.”

Harrison noted a childcare report was done in the city a year ago and a shortage of daycare spaces exists, especially infant toddler spaces, so the project will be a good addition.

The variance permit request goes to the next meeting of city council on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.

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Salmon Arm Observer