The District of Coldstream conducted an online survey in December 2018 which they used for their decision in early 2019 to embark on providing a childcare facility in Lavington following an investigation into government grants.
The Council and Staff in January 2019 unilaterally chose to put the facility in the Lavington Centenial Park.
Later in the year, in the fall of 2019, the District partnered with the City of Vernon to conduct a needs assessment for childcare. That report was received in February 2020.
Predating the receipt of the needs assessment report, the District had already applied for the grant ($637,800) from the provincial government. The grant was received in April 2020.
On August 6, 2020, a petition with the names and addresses of 184 petitioners was received by the District. The addresses presented were summarized by District staff as follows:
73 Lavington residents
18 West Coldstream residents
The petition statement was:
We, the undersigned wish to petition the Council of the District of Coldstream to:
“not build in Lavington Centennial Park, 6408 Lavington Way, Coldstream, BC Save our Park!”
So why did 184 individuals sign a petition, albeit only 91 Coldstream residents protesting the decision made by Coldstream Council to build a childcare facility within the Lavington Park? Let’s look at the events that preceded the August 2020 protest.
- In January 2019, after hearing concerns from residents via a survey monkey online survey about the lack of available childcare spaces, and a looming deadline, Council directed staff to submit a grant application to the UBCM program for a child care facility to be located in Lavington Park along School Road.
- In July 2019 Council was advised that their application was unsuccessful.
- In August 2019 a concerned group of residents living within the District of Coldstream, made a presentation to Coldstream Council on the need for child care spaces. The group brought for a proposal for Council to consider and requested that the District take action to create child care spaces. The report did not mention Lavington or the use of the park.
- In September 2019, a representative from the Ministry of Community & Family Development made a presentation to Council outlining the funding programs and various child care opportunities
- On September 9, 2019, council held their meeting in the Lavington Fire Hall, the minutes show no reference to a childcare facility. There were 9 people in the gallery for the meeting.
- In November 2019, the Needs Assessment was commenced, the District of Coldstream partnered with the City of Vernon and GDH Solutions to produce a Child Care Needs Assessment for our area. The report was dated February 21, 2020
- In December 2019, Council authorized the re-submission of the proposed Lavington Child Care Facility. However, this time the grant was submitted to the New Spaces Fund.
- On December 23, 2019, District of Coldstream Development Applications Procedures Bylaw No. 1747, 2019 was adopted.
- March 9, 2020, the Child Care Needs Assessment report was presented to Council, by GDH Solutions, at the Lavington Fire Hall. There were 23 people in the gallery. The report demonstrated a need for more childcare spaces within the District of Coldstream and the City of Vernon. The report was void on recommending locations in Coldstream.
- April 24, 2020, Trevor Siebel, Coldstream’s CAO, provides a press release announcing $637,800 funding received by Coldstream for day care.
- April 29, 2020, Trevor Siebel published a website document of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS to provide additional details on how this project evolved and to help answer some of the more commonly asked questions
- August 6, 2020, Dave Pope chains himself to a tree to stop construction and petition is presented to Coldstream Council. Construction had already begun.
In December 2019, the Coldstream Council spent a great deal of time on Bylaw 1747 which, from staff documents, was to
- early disclosure would allow residents an opportunity to meet with staff and;
- ability to hold consultative meetings outside of the normal “public hearing” process;
- Council would be sensitive to the impact of new developments in the community and would have more frequent meetings with the community as a way to engage meaningfully with the community.
This was to be done by:
- the new requirement for applicants to post development signs on properties under development
- increasing the notification distance for applications that required a direct notice mail out to nearby property owners from 30m to 100m
- placing an advertisement in the local newspaper.
The District did none of of the above! It ignored it’s own recently adopted Bylaw 1747
Placing a Child Care facility inside of a park impacts the Official Community Plan, the existing Zoning (both indicating “park”). If any of us citizens of Coldstream had undertaken this project it would need a Development Variance Permit.
Why was there an exemption in this case?
How did it have to come to this and who would you hold responsible for disregarding the community’s concerns?
Our District of Coldstream Management?
Who is responsible to see that processes are followed?
The answer is us!
Maybe someone on the list of petitioners will run for Mayor or Council.
The District of Coldstream did not follow its own Policies and Bylaws that are set in place to protect the interests of its citizens. Had they done so, the Lavington Protest probably could have been avoided. For our mayor to blame Covid when addressing the dissatisfaction with the location of the Lavington Daycare, is a poor excuse when this has been in the works since January 2019.
Vernon Morning Star on April 30, 2020
Garlick acknowledged he wished there was additional time for public input following the successful grant application.
“When we received our funding we would have liked to have had more time for information sessions,” he said.
“But that fell within the COVID-19 lockdown. We couldn’t get the OK to make the funding public and get information out until very recently (April 24).”
This, he said, has cost the district several weeks that could have been used to request proposals for contractors to get work underway.
“That’s been a challenge,” he said.
Given that the initial decision to locate a childcare facility in Lavington Centennial Park was made by Council in January 2019, Mayor Garlick, it is irrelevant as to when funding was received. Over one year was available for community consultation. Good planning, effective communication and consultation at the outset should have been Councils challenge. Instead, the staff appear to have spent their time analyzing petitioner’s addresses, in what seems to be, an attempt to discredit the petition presented to Council. Did Covid stop a sign being placed at the park, or a letter mailed to the nearby residents, or for an advertisement to being made, as required by bylaw 1747?
In planning developments in the future, Coldstream should adhere to the same standards that they demand of any proposal brought before them by the public. Zoning, Official Community Plans and Bylaws ensure the protection of its citizens interests that are in place, are followed!