- An application has been submitted to the Town seeking zoning permission for a new daycare at 6082 Main Street, a registered heritage property.
- The facility would offer 30 needed spaces, including 10 spots each for children aged 1.5-2.5 years, 2.5-6 years, and kindergarteners up to 7 years old.
- To facilitate drop-off and pick-up operations, the applicant intends to hardscape a large portion of the property, creating a one-way lane from William Street around the rear of the building, exiting onto Main.
- The hardscaping plan also includes an outdoor play area and 12 on-site parking spaces to accommodate an estimated 10 staff members.
- The property would need to be rezoned from residential to commercial, but Staff emphasized that the change would be accompanied by a site-specific amendment allowing only daycare uses.
- Residents spoke against the proposal during Wednesday’s Public Planning Meeting, citing the following concerns:
- Increased area traffic and pedestrian safety
- Over-hardscaping of the property
- Commercial zoning allowing for more disruptive uses in the future
- Potential negative impacts on the heritage building and property
- Functionality of the proposed drop-off lane
According to an assessment by the applicant’s consultants, Stouffville currently has a total daycare capacity of 768 spaces with an estimated 775 children on local waitlists. This 1:1 ratio is expected to worsen in the coming years. Mayor Iain Lovatt expanded on the challenges faced by Stouffville families, stating that waitlists can extend up to two years.
“We have a major issue with daycare access here in town,” Lovatt stated at the meeting. “I liken the need for daycare to finding a family doctor: you can’t get it.” In his view, Stouffville can not expand the Town’s daycare capacity without engaging such applications: “Listening to the comments from the community is absolutely crucial, but for us to have complete communities as we grow, we are going to need more spots for parents that have to work.”
6082 Main Street “is a contributing property to the proposed Main Street West Heritage Conservation District and is listed for its architectural, historical, and contextual value on the Town’s Built Heritage Inventory,” the Staff report explains. “It was also previously used for both residential and professional office uses.” Staff clarified that there are no plans to alter the building itself beyond the addition of an accessibility ramp.
Despite Staff’s assurances, resident concerns persist regarding potential impacts on the building. One speaker at the Public Planning Meeting highlighted a history of consequential changes to 6082 Main, expressing worry over the proposal posing additional threats to the heritage structure. Another asked the Town to conduct an assessment of the building to identify the heritage attributes most important to its character and the local community.
Lovatt acknowledged residents’ issues surrounding the risk of commercial zoning leading to more disruptive uses on the property should the daycare close. However, Dwyane Tapp, Stouffville’s Director of Development Services, told attendees that the commercial zoning would include a clause saying only daycare uses would be permitted along with all existing residential uses.
Site-specific zoning amendments are also necessary to allow for 12 on-site parking spaces instead of the required 16, as well as reduced yard and landscaped areas due to the hardscaping plan. Responding to queries about the necessity of the one-way drive-through, the proponent’s consultant explained that it was required to facilitate drop-off and pick-up flow while accommodating the additional parking.
In response, Mayor Lovatt suggested exploring less impactful options and pointed out that other daycares in Stouffville, some with more than twice as many enrolled children, function effectively with fewer parking spaces and without a drive-through. He also concurred with potential issues stemming from the planned right-out exit onto Main Street.
“This is a challenging file for me,” Lovatt said. “If there are ways to solve some of the issues…to ease some of the concerns of the neighbours, I want to find a solution,” he added. “But I have talked to these moms who are desperate for daycare and they can’t get anything.”
Council is expected to decide on the zoning amendments as early as their next Council meeting on February 7. The applicant’s proposed site plan can be seen here.