Courtright United Church. February 20, 2024. (Photo included in report to St. Clair Township Council)Courtright United Church. February 20, 2024. (Photo included in report to St. Clair Township Council)

Courtright United Church to house daycare

The incoming new owners of Courtright United Church have plans to incorporate a daycare facility by the end of the year.

St. Clair Township Council recently approved a zoning bylaw amendment so the building, located at 1540 Fourth St., can operate as a church and childcare facility.

The property is scheduled to change hands in May to George & Stedman Properties. The new owners will lease a portion of the building to Kiddies Korner Co-op.

Future Co-Owner Ross George said they carried out a similar project in Bridgen about two years ago and it has been fully occupied (with a waiting list) since it began operations.

"When we did that project, we aligned ourselves with a registered non-profit, Kiddies Korner Co-op. They've been operating a daycare facility in the County of Lambton, in Petrolia, for over 50 years. Brigden was their second location," George said. "They're eager to expand to a third location."

Like the Brigden site, George said the Courtright facility will be licensed for two daycare rooms with 16 children each, for a total of 32.

"Keep in mind that not everybody sends their kids every day, so those 32 spots in Brigden actually serve upwards, I think it's, 80-something families total," he said.

George said they're aiming to open the new daycare by the fall or winter of 2024.

One resident spoke in opposition of the project during the council meeting with safety concerns and questions about outdoor operations or changes.

George said the grassed area to the south and west of the building will be utilized as a fenced-in outdoor play space.

"So the children would be dropped off in the morning in a fenced-in outdoor play space," said George. "So they won't be coming in through the main door, there'll be a door installed in the building that goes directly out to the outdoor playground so that it's safe for the children to be dropped off in."

George said noticeable changes to the property from the outside will be minimal. Security cameras will be installed around the building and the operator has chosen self-supporting fencing, which does not require poles and can be removed if needed.

"As far as play structures go, it would be something like a sandbox or a slide, none of which are permanent structures," he said. "There will be outdoor storage for said toys, it will be a garden-shed type of structure. It will be 100-square-feet or less and it's going to be located up against the building, well out of the sightlines of the street corner."

One resident spoke in support of the application and said as someone with a three-month-old baby, she was "excited" about the idea with hopes of utilizing the daycare one day.

Mayor Jeff Agar also commended George on the project.

"This is great for Courtright," Agar said. "It's [needed] immensely and it's great for the church too because they can keep their doors open too. It's a win-win for everybody."

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