Changes to proposal not enough for neighbour

Matt Church is glad changes were made to a rezoning application by Cambridge Montessori school at First Street and Seventh Avenue that eliminated a drive-thru that had vehicles idling underneath the window of his daughter Avery
Matt Church is glad changes were made to a rezoning application by Cambridge Montessori school at First Street and Seventh Avenue that eliminated a drive-thru that had vehicles idling underneath the window of his daughter Avery's room. However; he is still concerned about the noise that will be created by the shifts of classes using the playground during the day.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

Although happy about several changes made to a rezoning application to allow expansion of a Glenbrook child care facility, a next door neighbour would liked to have seen more before council gave it the green light.

Cambridge Montessori first applied three years ago to rezone the property at 57 Seventh Ave., at the corner of First Street, so it could use both floors of the building formerly known as Grace Hall. The current zoning allows for childcare on only one floor while the other can be rented out for community activities. A revised proposal was submitted in July 2013 and after several meetings and correspondence with area residents, owners Joyce and David Chen made several changes.

The revisions included eliminating a drive-thru drop-off that runs between Grace Hall and the home of Matt and Kristin Church. They complained vehicles would idle underneath the window of the bedroom housing their infant daughter Avery who was hospitalized at eight months with a respiratory infection.

The revised application proposed on-street loading zones and limiting use of the driveway to its staff accessing its five parking spaces. They also reduced the childcare spaces they wanted from 45 to 41.

Matt Church praised Glenbrook residents for helping bring about the changes, but he still feels there are other issues that should be dealt with. He believes the facility’s playground won’t be big enough for all of the students to use at once forcing play time to be done in shifts, and that will be troublesome for the Churches because he or his wife are home with Avery 70 per cent of the time the facility is in operation.

“Up to 25 children will be outside playing and screaming for three hours a day. When you combine this with the close proximity of the daycare’s basement entrance, where parents pick-up and drop-off their children, it creates a disturbance. This noise generated by the children and parents inarguably interferes with the enjoyment of our home,” wrote Church in an email to the NewsLeader. “The sound of vehicles, parents and children is agitating when we are enjoying our backyard with family and friends.”

Joyce Chen said in an interview with the NewsLeader the children have a right to play and laugh, but also said since it’s a Montessori school the learning is less play-based.

Church is also worried about safety and traffic issues. When he appeared before council Jan. 27, he proposed speed humps for First Street, saying it was the only local street in the area that doesn’t have them. City engineer Jim Lowrie said plans are in the works to move the intersection’s traffic circle to the west but there are several factors that need to be taken into account before speed humps would be installed.

Chen said she and her husband have done everything they can to address the Glenbrook neighbourhood’s concerns as well as the city’s. She plans to meet with city social planner John Stark soon to determine what’s next in the process.

“I’d like to be a good resident here,” she said in an interview. “I appreciate council supported us because we did everything correctly. Even the parents support us. Maybe we’re not perfect, but we will try our best … I just want to have a peaceful ending.”

In supporting the rezoning, Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said Church made a cogent argument about the drive-thru being too close to his daughter’s bedroom, but noted the Chens’ changes were an improvement.

“The number of vehicles will be significantly reduced. You’ll only see three or four vehicles in the morning, and they’ll be parking,” said Puchmayr.

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