An Open Letter to Mayoral and Councillor Candidates for the City of Fredericton
As residents of the city of Fredericton, we would like to inform you of an issue we have with Fredericton’s zoning by-laws regarding daycares and child-minding services.
We are Brendan Wood and Mya Lynch, a young couple who live on Charlotte Street next to Renaissance College. Mya operates a home daycare during regular working hours during the week. She currently cares for five children (three full-time, two part-time), aged one to three years, which is a valuable service to working parents in New Brunswick due to the extreme shortage of infant spaces in New Brunswick daycare centres.
For the past seven months, we have spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours of our time trying to become a licensed home daycare, in order to increase our standard of care and become eligible for government funding and support. Basically, we wish to provide a high quality service for parents, and to do so by-the-book.
Unfortunately, as we have just discovered, Fredericton’s zoning by-laws prevent us from doing so. Despite the fact that we have our landlord’s permission to operate in our four-unit building, and despite that our neighbours and tenants have never voiced concern with us about Mya’s job, section 5.14.5 of the zoning by-laws declares that our operation is illegal because our duplex-architectured building has been converted to a four-unit building. We made every effort to do everything correctly, but an obscure, heavy-handed, short-sighted by-law threatens it all.
And it threatens more than us. We know that there are dozens, if not hundreds of home-based childcare providers in Fredericton who run afoul of this by-law. They probably aren’t even aware of it. These are working-class, enterprising individuals whose services enable single parents to earn a living, and partnered parents to earn two incomes to support their families. This by-law effectively makes home daycares illegal in downtown Fredericton, and targets individuals living in shared housing — which are exactly the individuals who need this opportunity the most. The only saving grace is that Fredericton does not appear to actively enforce this by-law, though it does prevent caretakers from acquiring a license and applying for government funding.
On the other hand, we recognize that the purpose of this by-law is to prevent severe cases of child-related noise disturbances in shared housing, and the disturbances that may occur due to pick-up and drop-off times. While this is a valid issue for full-fledged daycare centres with multiple employees and dozens of kids, a home daycare is quite limited in the number of children they may care for, and this is a consideration that would best be handled by collaborative agreement between landlords and their tenants. A home daycare is no different than stay-at-home parents caring for their own children. This is a textbook case of government legislation taking things too far, and hindering the public with excessive red tape. This by-law is a solution in search of a problem.
We humbly request that you present our petition to the city council, and recommend a more balanced and reasonable policy for zoning regulations related to home daycares. Please help us make Fredericton a better place for children and their parents.