Mayor David Miller sided with child-care advocates Thursday, expressing opposition to a proposal to restrict the opening of new day nurseries in residential areas.
Miller, rebuking city staff who drew up the plan, called the proposal “too restrictive.” He suggested it would be eliminated by staff or the planning committee before it goes to a vote by city council.
“Families need daycare, and they need it in their neighbourhood and community,” he said after speaking at the EcoCAR competition at the Sheraton Centre. “As a parent, my kids were in daycare in our church just up the street for several years, then they were in daycare in our school just up the street. You need to find a way to allow daycares to be part of a neighbourhood.”
The restriction, which would allow new day nurseries (those caring for more than five children) to open in private houses only after a rezoning process, was proposed as part of an effort to harmonize zoning bylaws in the pre-amalgamation municipalities that now comprise Toronto. Only the former City of Toronto allowed large home daycares to open without specific approval.
Such day nurseries have long represented only a small percentage of the city’s child-care facilities. But advocates and some parents have argued new restrictions would only exacerbate a chronic shortage of daycare spaces.