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Saint John considers rezoning to allow construction of $3M afterschool centre

The YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick is seeking council approval for a rezoning that would let it build a child-care centre at 730 Foster Thurston Dr. in Saint John. (City of Saint John - image credit)
The YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick is seeking council approval for a rezoning that would let it build a child-care centre at 730 Foster Thurston Dr. in Saint John. (City of Saint John - image credit)

A rezoning application to allow an after-school centre with room for up to 90 children is going before members of Saint John city council for approval.

Councillors at their regular meeting on Tuesday gave first and second reading to a bylaw to rezone an 82-hectare plot of land at 730 Foster Thurston Dr. in order to let the YMCA build the $3-million facility, which would serve as an expansion of the Glenn Carpenter Centre.

Tuesday's meeting was an option for members of the public to weigh in on the proposal, with two people coming before councillors to voice support for it.

"There's a huge waitlist in our facilities for after-school programming, and... the [YMCA] is dedicated to help fill that need," said Shilo Boucher, president and CEO of the YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick, who was one of the presenters.

"So we're excited to have the support of of the city and the staff."

Shilo Boucher, the president and CEO of the YMCA in Saint John, says she's interested to see how the government provides the support they outlined in the action plan.
Shilo Boucher, the president and CEO of the YMCA in Saint John, says she's interested to see how the government provides the support they outlined in the action plan.

Shilo Boucher, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick, told councillors the expansion would allow the organization to operate its Glenn Carpenter Centre programs year-round. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

According to city planning documents, the site is currently zoned rural, and would need to be rezoned to "major community facility" in order to accommodate the building.

The proposed building has a floor area of about 745 square metres, and would be used as an after-school centre for 90 children from September to June.

For the summer months, the facility would be used in conjunction with the summer day camp program already operated at the Glenn Carpenter Centre's lodge, which is located on the eastern shore of Ashburn Lake.

Boucher said the new facility would effectively turn the centre's 10-week summer program into a program that serves families year-round.

"So we're very excited to really expand our reach not only in child care, but also in terms of of recreation and all that we can offer to all families in the community," she said.

Last September, the New Brunswick government announced it was providing $495,000 to help with the $3-million expansion. A news release at the time said the YMCA was contributing $1.25 million and would raise the remaining funds through donations.

The YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick is seeking to rezone an 82-hectare plot of land as part of its construction of a new facility to expand its Glenn Carpenter Centre. The subject lands are outlined in red.
The YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick is seeking to rezone an 82-hectare plot of land as part of its construction of a new facility to expand its Glenn Carpenter Centre. The subject lands are outlined in red.

The YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick is seeking to rezone an 82-hectare plot of land as part of its construction of a new facility to expand its Glenn Carpenter Centre. The subject lands are outlined in red. (City of Saint John.)

Following Boucher's presentation, Coun. Barry Ogden said he was in full support of the YMCA's plan.

"I'm a big, big believer that recreation is great for mental and physical health," he said.

"It lowers our health-care costs, it's great for learning, the brain needs physical activity to learn."

The bylaw to rezone the plot of land will be given third and final reading by councillors at the next meeting later this month.