North Cowichan will soon have 158 new childcare spaces, thanks to a $18,047,000 grant from senior levels of government.
The grant, which was provided by the federal and provincial governments through the Canada-British Columbia Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund, will see a new childcare facility constructed that will replace the one currently operated by Parkside Academy Society at the former Somenos school site on Sprott Road and will be constructed on adjacent property.
Site preparation work is currently underway, and construction will begin in early 2024 with the new centre expected to be open by the fall 2025.
“We are excited to break ground on this much needed new childcare facility in North Cowichan,” said North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas.
“With the current shortage of accessible, affordable and quality childcare spaces in the Cowichan region, this new funding will be welcome news to many working families in our community.”
With a staff of approximately 20, Parkside currently offers pre-school and after school programs for approximately 200 children, aged up to 12 years old.
In conjunction with Parkside, North Cowichan staff had developed plans for a new childcare centre in 2021 that would have replaced the society’s current facility, and applied for funding for phase one of the project from B.C.’s New Spaces Fund to help build it.
But that application was denied last year for a number of reasons, including the inability of the applicants to secure funding for phase two of the project and other issues with the proposal.
However, since then, the province released an updated NSF grant program which relaxed some of the criteria, including removing the maximum funding availability for each application, which was previously set at $3 million, and applications for funding were made again.
Grace Lore, the province’s Minister of State for Child Care, said child care is not only life changing for families, but it is also good for communities as a whole.
“For a growing region like North Cowichan, this new childcare centre will ensure parents and early childhood educators can pursue opportunities, which helps strengthen the local economy and benefit the community for years to come,” she said.
Karina Gould, minister of Families, Children and Social Development Canada, added that it’s known that there is a shortage of childcare spaces right across the country, and provinces and territories need to work diligently to create new spaces in their communities.
“This new childcare facility in the Municipality of North Cowichan will provide high-quality, affordable, flexible, and inclusive child care spaces for families in the community,” she said.
“The Government of Canada is proud to support projects such as this one, and will continue working with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system that will benefit all children and families.”