By Clare Ogilvie
Squamish and Mount Currie have received substantial provincial grants to help improve childcare and other needed family services to the areas.
Sea to Sky Community Services Society (SSCSS) received $50,000 toward its new project, which will see childcare and family support services concentrated in the former Squamish courthouse building.
“It was extremely exciting,” said SSCSS executive director Lois Wynne.
The money will likely be used to buy big-ticket playground equipment to support the four childcare programs, which will be run from the centre, as well as special furnishings needed to facilitate the care of kids with special needs.
SSCSS already received a federal grant of $480,000 to renovate the old courthouse and get it ready to open by June1.
“It just seemed like a great way to take an old building no longer in use and make it a hub of activity again,” said Wynne.
The location had been suggested to Wynne by the District of Squamish as the proposal worked well with the official community plan to get people to return to the downtown core of the town. It will offer the first infant childcare service in the community as well as a toddler program and full time daycare and Highscope pre-school program. There will also be child development experts, physiotherapists and occupational therapists on site so that families who need to call on these special services need only go to one location. Childcare spaces will increase by at least a dozen.
That was a major reason the province offered the grant to SSCSS, said Linda Reid, Minister of State for Child Care.
“We have lots of families in British Columbia today who go to three or four different places on their way to work or to school in the morning because their children cannot be accommodated in a single centre,” she said.
“That is a challenge for families and frankly I believe it is an unnecessary challenge.”
The province is focusing on funding neighbourhood hubs — centres where childcare, early childhood development and family strengthening programs are housed under one roof.
This round of funding will see $2.5 million given to neighbourhood hubs around the province.
This also lay behind a grant of $198,600 given to the Pqusnalhew Child Care Centre in Mount Currie. The money will be used to expand the centre so more childcare can be offered.
There has been a substantial waiting list for years said the centre’s director, Jessica Frank.
“We have a huge wait list,” she said.
It’s hoped construction on the 1,603 square foot addition will start next month, with completion in the fall.
“This is so exciting and will make a great difference,” said Frank, adding that she hopes the additional spaces will allow parents to either return to school, go back to work or seek employment.