Wee town rises outside Duncan

A magical town in miniature is about to rise on the old ballfields by the Trans Canada Highway.

School District 79 and some of its community partners are working together to create a new fun filled spot for early learning there, according to assistant superintendent Sheryl Koers.

"It’s a place where everyone is welcome and everything is free. Children’s play is critical to their learning and we are grateful for the partnerships we have developed in support of the Children’s Play and Discovery Centre," Koers said. "Once completed, this centre will be a stimulating environment that will engage many families and children in the Cowichan Valley."

The early learning centre will be housed in the portables that are located on the old ball fields along side the Trans Canada Highway and next to Vancouver Island University.

The hairdressing and carpentry programs that previously occupied the portables have moved to the new trades school on the old Koksilah Elementary school site.

Soon, community business and organization sponsors will start to build the special little town with miniaturized buildings for children to play and learn in.

There will be a restaurant, a fire station, a boat and dock, a Coast Salish storytelling

village, a tree house and cave, a fitness centre, a health centre, a pet/vet centre and a construction centre, according to Koers.

Candace Spilsbury, community liaison, former school trustee and former district director of elementary education, is thrilled.

"I am very excited to be involved in this project. We all know how important early learning is to a child’s success in life and this centre will provide that opportunity for children in the Cowichan Valley."

Set to open officially this month, the centre will be open in the mornings, five days a week with an early childhood educator to facilitate learning.

Community groups will be able to use the centre at other times to provide additional learning opportunities, Koers said.