The New Horizons Society for Autism and Special Needs is hoping to put a childcare centre in the Elks Hall.
Society members Betty Turatus and Crystal Turatus appeared before city council Tuesday, Oct. 20 requesting support for the society’s pursuit of funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s New Childcare Facility Funding to renovate the building.
“We opened up last year,” Betty said. “We had 39 children on the day we opened on Oct. 17, we now have 151 clients.”
“Childcare for children with autism and special needs is even more needed than childcare in general,” she added.
Their plan is to use the lower level of the Elks Hall for a daycare and the upper level for a before and after school centre and a recreation/gymnasium for the daycare.
The Elks Hall has been traditionally used as a community hall and that would remain the case for evenings and weekends once COVID-19 restrictions allow it.
They told council part of the plan is to keep the historic building as intact as possible and honour the community work of the Elks and the Royal Purple, hence the centre will be called the Elks/Royal Purple Childcare and Learning Centre.
Betty said 50 per cent of the spaces will be for children with autism and special needs, 25 per cent for neurotypical children and 25 per cent for employees of the centre and students enrolled in early childhood education and behavioural interventionist programs locally or online.
The Elks Hall was originally built in the 1930s, and then rebuilt in 1960 after it burned down.
They said they are entering into a partnership with the Elks.
Elks president Randy Schellenberg told the Tribune Monday that the club is wanting to sell the hall.
“With COVID, it killed us,” he said.