SD 27 Supt. Chris van der Mark said the district’s success getting a $3 million ChildCareBC New Spaces grant is due to the wide range of community support for the project.
“I cannot stress enough, without everyone chiming in and saying ‘go’ we wouldn’t have got it,” van der Mark said as he gathered to celebrate the announcement with representatives from the city, Williams Lake First Nation, the board of trustees and the Women’s Contact Society.
The funding will go toward creating 119 new childcare spaces in the former dormitory at the Lakecity Secondary Columneetza campus on Western Avenue.
The childcare facility will be housed in the first two floors of the building with a playground created on the south side of the building.
School District board chair Ciel Patenaude in a new release said once it the project is completed it will give the Columneetza campus a new look and feel that will benefit the entire community.
“We are very pleased that our application to the Province was approved, and we can get to work transforming this vacant District property into a vibrant early learning and childcare facility.”
Now that the provincial funding has been secured, SD27 will proceed to the design phase and finalizing the costs, working with the Women’s Contact Society (WCS) executive director Irene Willsie and her team.
KidCare Daycare, a WCS facility, will operate the new childcare centre and Willsie said initially spots will be filled with before and after school care for school-aged children.
“While that work is underway, we plan to use the additional space to host and train new early childhood educators to build up our capacity to create more infant and toddler spaces,” Willsie said.
Van der Mark said SD27 will also be contributing funds to revitalize the Columneetza cafeteria to support the daycare and the school.
Increasing childcare spaces has been a priority of the city, Mayor Walt Cobb said, as he commended SD27 for its commitment to supporting local families.
“Having a shared vision strengthens our community, and I am pleased to see this essential project go ahead.”
It is anticipated the project will not be completed until possibly 2023 or 2024.
Willsie said designing and building daycares is not easy.
“There are a lot of details that go into it.”