Drama for daycare

THE future of the Kidz Galore daycare centre at Haynes Street Reserve will be mulled over by Vincent councillors at a special meeting on January 28.

The council owns the land at the corner of Haynes and Sydney Streets and Kidz Galore has been there for 17 years, with its lease ending in December this year.

KG offered to buy the block in 2016, but council staff unearthed a caveat dating back to 1941 which legally requires the lot to be used for “public recreation”.

Caveat breach

The council says it can only remove the caveat if it can convince a judge it’s “impossible, impractical or inexpedient” for it to remain in place and will only offer KG a five-year lease. The council would have to show the space is “surplus to need,” which would be tricky, since its own public open space strategy says there’s a shortage.

The council held consultation in November and 51 per cent of respondents wanted Haynes Street Reserve to be used as public open space (with an all-ages playground a popular priority), and 44 per cent wanted the childcare to stay.

On January 28 councillors will vote on a staff recommendation to write to attorney general John Quigley, acknowledging the city’s currently in breach of the 1941 caveat and seeking approval for a five-year transition plan that will allow the current cohort to finish.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole says Kidz Galore has been a great tenant providing a valuable service to the community, which made the vote a difficult decision.

“I think [the five-year lease] strikes that balance that we needed, to allow the childcare centre to have the certainty they’ve been seeking, allowing them to transition to find the permanent home they’ve been looking for, but does it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the service,” Ms Cole said.

Open space

During consultation another popular option was to move Kidz Galore to the east side of the reserve which is currently leased to the state government for a special needs dentist (the lease ends June 2021).

That part of the reserve isn’t covered by the recreation caveat, but the council wants to turn the whole area into public open space.

The council-owned carpark south of the dentist could be sold off to fund the park. The block’s valued at $785,000 and the park’s upper estimate is $320,000.

The special meeting is scheduled for 6.30pm, just after the AGM at 6pm.

by DAVID BELL

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