BONNYVILLE – Parents in the Town of Bonnyville area may soon have another daycare option.
Cold Lake-based business Happy House Daycare is eyeing a building in town for a new facility.
“There’s a need for it,” noted owner Uta Squire. “We’ve already had parents who’ve requested (we open there)… and we have had people who worked for us that have requested that as well.”
The proposed location at 6210 50 Ave. would have space for 170 children, but Squire said they would likely average between 140 and 150. The Bonnyville facility would operate Monday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Like their facilities in Cold Lake, the Happy House Daycare would offer before and after school care. Their fees would range from $320 to $760, depending on the length of time a child is there full or part-time.
Squire began the process of hunting for a site in November and had some difficulty finding a building that would fit their needs.
“I would love to have something more central in town, but there’s nothing there. You need to look for a half decent space to make it worthwhile, plus you have to see about parking. Parking is a huge thing with any type of business, because if you try and find something central in Bonnyville, where are you going to get parking? We looked around in that building, and it just seemed right.”
Squire has been hard at work getting everything she needs in order. Before submitting a development permit to the town, the location had to be approved by a daycare licensing officer and Alberta Transportation due to the proximity to a major highway. She’s also touched base with a health inspector, and believes the conversation went well.
When town council discussed Squire’s permit during their Jan. 14 meeting, one topic was the safety of the children.
“I personally feel it would be a concern to have a daycare there, because it’s an industrial area,” noted Coun. Elisa Brosseau.
Preventing future businesses from having a store front in the area due to the proximity of children was a concern for Mayor Gene Sobolewski.
“Now, you have a proposed development that’s smack-dab in the middle of a highway commercial area… and you’ve got a vacant lot next door. By allowance of a daycare in this type of zone and say you get different types of businesses in the future that want to develop next to it, but because we’ve got children in daycare in an industrial area, are we precluding… or limiting ourselves from future development?”
Another issue raised was the proposed plan being 11 parking stalls short of the 34 required for the venue size, however, Squire said the playground design could be altered to allow for more parking.
The topic will come back to the table for council during their Jan. 28 meeting after they tour the facility with Squire.
If the daycare gets the green light from the town, Squire is hoping to begin construction right away with the goal of opening their doors as early as April.
“As soon as they say ‘fine’, then I just need to make the agreement on my rent and then we can start,” she noted. “We already have the plumber, electrician, and everybody lined up. We just need the approval from the town.”
Squire launched Happy House Daycare in her basement in Cold Lake in 2008. The demand from parents allowed her to open a bigger facility in the old Grand Centre Middle School in Cold Lake in 2011. This location has 47 educators, 16 classrooms, and 310 children. Their second location opened its doors in Cold Lake north in May 2019, with 100 children and 15 educators.