Charlottetown gets earful on who can start a home-based child care

Nigel Armstrong
Published on January 25, 2016

Neil Lawless speaks to Charlottetown City Council Monday during a public meeting on zoning issues. Lawless said he is strongly opposed to a clarification regarding home-based child care. A proposed change will allow a person to operate a home child care business whether or not that person owns or rents the residence.

©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

City holds meeting on plan to clarify that child care business can be in home that is either owned or rented

Charlottetown City Council held a public meeting Monday on the topic of home-based child care and got an earful of opposition.

It all came from one man, city resident Neil Lawless, who delivered a lengthly list of problems that child-care businesses cause when operating in residential areas.

Council is trying to make a small wording change in city bylaws to clarify that a person can operate a child-care business in a home, if they meet all requirements, whether or not they own or rent the residence.

Lawless said the change will increase the number of places all across the city that might potentially get approval to operate a home-based day care.

"People buy properties, they raise families, they want to relax in their backyard," said Lawless.

Children at day cares make a lot of noise which could interfere with that, he said.

Lawless declined to tell council or The Guardian where he lives but said he has complained to the city about a day care near him operated by people who rent the residence.

He warned of parking problems from parents dropping off and picking children up.

"They are all not going to park in one driveway," he said to council.

"It could interfere with snow removal. It could interfere with Island Waste Management pick up. It could interfere with first responders."

Traffic congestion will make the street more dangerous, he said.

Moving on to another issue, renters operating a day care won't take care of the property to the same degree as property owners, said Lawless.

His list of problems with home-based day care was extensive, making his presentation just over 20 minutes long.

"Is there a need by the public at large in this city to have a neighbourhood day care operated by proprietors who do not own the property?" said Lawless in concluding his presentation.

Roseanne Cheverie owns a home-based day care in Charlottetown and spoke immediately after Lawless.

"I am wondering if you realize the need for good-quality child care," Cheverie said directly to Lawless. "There are not enough day cares available in Charlottetown for people to go back to work."

Cheverie said traffic from day cares is probably not the problem suggested by Lawless.

"People that are bringing their children to the in-home day care are probably driving slower because they have a child in their vehicle," said Cheverie.

She went on to say that home-based day cares increase the value of property for families.

Council will consider all the comments from the meeting as it works to bring the matter to a vote at a later time.