Following deputations from two parents about the need for more daycare spaces in town, council has approved spending an extra $83,200 on the daycare addition beside the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library.
Adam Hawley has a child at Niagara Nursery School, and another baby at home who will one day need a space, he told councillors.
Natalie Cooper has a 16-month-old who has been on the waiting list for a daycare spot since February, but she is currently number 32 on the list. Trying to find registered daycare she trusts “is highly stressful,” she told council Monday, especially for children under two.
A $1,532,830 expansion to the Niagara Nursery School was approved by council last June, and the funding was in place, with more than $500,000 from the Province and $200,000 from the Region. The Town and Niagara Nursery School will pay the remainder, including using a debenture of about $552,000.
However, because the expansion is being moved to the north-east corner of the NOTL Public Library, some changes have been made to the original design, and there are extra costs that were not accounted for in the original budget, which the Town has been asked to cover.
A public meeting was held recently about the move, and although there continues to be some opposition from neighbours who still fear the loss of trees, Hawley and Cooper wanted council to know how badly the expansion is needed, and to approve spending the extra $83,200.
There are no registered childcare options for children under the age of two in the community, Cooper said.
As the organizer of a Mommas and Babies group, which she started when she realized there was a need for unstructured, informal meetings for other mothers with youngsters who are, like her, feeling isolated, Cooper said, and daycare “is definitely a hot topic with moms.”
NOTL is not just a retirement community, and communities that invest in infrastructure for young families will attract even more, she told council. And many of the families moving to town want to volunteer and become engaged in the community, she added.
“Everyone wants to live in a town that’s great for all ages.”
Hawley told council that as a parent with a daughter at NNS, he couldn’t be happier with the care she receives, and she loves it. He also has a son who will one day require a daycare space, he said.
“Expansion will have a positive impact on the quality of life for young families,” he told councillors.
It’s a project within the Town’s control, and it’s “an unbelievable opportunity,” he added. “Expansion will add a piece of the puzzle to support young families in town.”
Council voted to spend the extra money for details such as an extra brick veneer wall, underground services for the new location, extra concrete for pathways, and a larger vestibule.
It will be funded from development charges and permit fees.