The laughter of preschoolers at play is apparently not music to everyone’s ears as was seen at a committee of adjustment meeting held Thursday. At issue was a request by the Catholic School Board to have a zoning variance allowed that would enable the use of a portion of land adjacent to St Augustine’s School in Dundas as a play area for kids attending a day care located at the school.
The property is actually on flood plain but could normally be developed for low density residential, with certain flood-proofing prerequisites, but this particular property is landlocked– has no street access. Staff recommended approving the use of the property as a play area, noting, “Recognizing that the variance requested is for an ancillary, passive use to the day nursery on the same property as well as considering the existing constraints of the lands, Staff are of the opinion that the application is desirable for the lands in question and recommend it be approved.”
That did not sit well with a number of residents on Alma Street where the school is located. They noted in submissions to the committee that the daycare, which has been in operation for two years, has extended their exposure to noise. The Day care operates year-round and its hours run to 6PM. A couple of letters from long-time residents said they had coexisted with the school without incident, because it shut down at 3pm and of course, was closed during summer months.
One common theme in the letters was the neighbours were not consulted by the HWDCSB when it expanded the daycare in 2020. There were also references to increased traffic associated with picking up and dropping off of children.
One of the Alma Street residents wrote, “We understood when we purchased our house, that there would be noise associated with living beside a school and this has been totally acceptable to us for 32 years. We have never had concerns with noise from the school children as it is intermittent. The extended periods of noise and nuisance created by placing the entire daycare parking lot, the walkway, and the outdoor programming and play area of this large daycare with multiple, year- round programs directly beside and abutting our property boundaries is totally unacceptable.”
The Committee of Adjustment in the end voted to allow the HWDCSB application.
The decision points to a larger challenge that will come to a head in the coming years. The Ford Government has signalled that in order to see a major increase in housing supply, issues such as maintenance of “neighbourhood character” will receive decreasing weight in matters heard by planning tribunals.