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Aug. 13, 2020 | Thursday
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Town approves additional $83,000 for nursery school
A rendering of the new nursery school on Anderson Lane. (Sourced)

Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors have approved additional funding for the Niagara Nursery School expansion after they were told about the need for child care in town.

The extra $83,200 will come from the town’s development charges, not from the general tax levy.

In June, the town has approved construction of a new $1.5 million nursery school. 

The 4,704-square-foot facility, which will be accessed from Anderson Lane, will have rooms for 10 infants, 15 toddlers, 24 preschoolers, and 20 school-aged children. The school will accommodate 69 children with 15 staff running the operation.

The building cost will be split among the Niagara Region, Town of NOTL and the provincial Ministry of Education.

With the extra contribution approved Monday, the town will provide a total of $248,889, all through development charges. The region will contribute $200,000 and the nursery school must come up with $100,000.

The town also has issued a 20-year debenture for $552,141 to the nursery school.

Natalie Cooper, of the NOTL Mamas and Babies group, spoke in support of the new expansion and additional funding, saying daycare is crucial for families in town and there are no registered full-time childcare options for children under the age of two.

The NOTL nursery only accepts children 27 months and older.

As the mother of a 16-month old girl, Cooper said it was very stressful trying to find trusted child care when she was returning to work. She also applied to the nursery school in February 2019 and is number 32 on the waitlist.

“Young families are moving here and it is a good thing,” Cooper said, noting the town is not just a retirement community and many young families here want to contribute to a town “that’s going to be great for all ages.”

Rampart Street resident Adam Hawley also spoke in support of giving additional money to the expansion. As the parent of an infant son, he said one of his big concerns is finding adequate and safe child care in town.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity for the town,” Hawley said. “The additional funds are a minor hurdle to create advances and the great opportunity here to have a huge success for the town. We need this.”

Town officials have discussed location options with the NOTL Public Library staff and came to an agreement to locate the facility to the northeast side of the library, staff said in a report.

The original proposed location of the building was closer to Anderson Lane.

After neighbours raised concerns about traffic safety, it was agreed to have a setback between the school and the road with a walkway leading to the facility from the drop-off area. 

The relocation of the building has created additional costs such as for extra concrete for new pathways, underground services and a larger vestibule. The additional funding will help complete the project.

Building the school on the east side will limit the disruption to NOTL Community Centre visitors, allow the existing nursery school to operate during the construction and make the building more visually appealing from the street.

According to the staff report, the costs for the extra items can be offset with money from development charges, from internal recoveries for project management and from building permit fees.

Each side of the building will also have a 41-foot setback and the project will preserve tree canopy, said the town’s manager of parks and recreation, Kevin Turcotte.

Some smaller trees will be spaded out and relocated on the property, and the other trees will either be relocated or taken down as they’re sitting in the existing footprint, he said.

“I’m excited to get this project going, constructed and have this facility available to meet the needs of a lot of young families in our community that really need care for those kids that are zero to two years old or up to six years old,” Turcotte told The Lake Report. “It’s always a challenge for parents that want that care for their kids.”

The town staff have also requested $180,000 for front parking from the 2020 capital budget. Council is expected to make a decision on that issue during budget deliberations in December.

The tender process will also be pieced out, Turcotte said at the council meeting, which means staff will put out separate tenders for steel, concrete work, for mechanical, electrical, and other items.

“We found that helps keeping the costs down,” Turcotte told The Lake Report.