Comox after-school program closes after 15 years

After about 15 years of existence, the After School Care (ASC) program at Comox Recreation Centre closed its doors.

After about 15 years of existence, the After School Care (ASC) program at Comox Recreation Centre closed its doors, leaving at least one parent’s children without after-school care.

The program ended one week ago Nov. 16, and parent Shannon Pickering says that while she found other childcare for her six-year-old son, she hasn’t been able to get her two older daughters into another similar program.

“My one daughter, because she’s 11, will come home, and sometimes I’m here and sometimes I’m not,” says Pickering. “And then I’m just going to have to use friends and, I don’t know, I have to piecemeal it together at this point.”

The centre’s program director Mandy Johns says the program was cancelled because there just wasn’t a great enough need in the community anymore.

“Very, very simply, it was numbers,” says Johns, adding after-school care programs at the local elementary schools meant declining enrolment for the Rec Centre’s program. “I felt horrible about having to make that decision…But there just wasn’t that call for it in the community anymore — the schools have taken it over.”

Johns notes about 20 to 25 children used to participate in the program each afternoon in the past, but over the last couple of years, programs were developed at Aspen Park Elementary and Robb Road Elementary.

Then in the spring, Rec Centre staff heard another after-school program was planned to start at Brooklyn Elementary in September.

“We knew it was going to hurt us,” she recalls, adding the bulk of the kids came from Brooklyn. “In September we had an average of 10 (kids) and then we were looking at, by the end of October two children were leaving, and we knew we’d be down to eight.”

She also noted the two instructors were paid union level wages and the program included picking kids up at Brooklyn by bus after school, which also meant costs for the program. The ASC program ran from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. after school days and cost $12 per child per day.

She says the program was “bleeding” financially in the fall, noting in September alone the program’s finances dipped $1,000 into the red.

But Pickering says she didn’t think the closure was fair with the announcement coming six weeks into the school year, (about one month before it closed its doors).

“I wasn’t happy with the way that they handled it,” says Pickering, adding the Rec Centre didn’t seem to try to promote it in the community before shutting it down. She says about half the parents she spoke to at Robb Road Elementary — where her daughters attend and where she tried unsuccessfully to get her daughters into after school care — didn’t know the program at the Rec Centre existed.

“I didn’t see an interest from the Rec Centre to actually keep it open,” she says, adding she believes the program should be more about a sense of community than financials.

However, Johns stresses the main reason for cancelling the program was the community’s declining need for it.

“I mean it’s not all about finances when you’re talking about childcare,” she explains. “The main thing we’re concerned with is the need, and when we opened up this program I’d say roughly about 15 years ago, and there was a great need for it in the community. But now with all the schools opening their own, that need’s not there anymore, and that’s what the numbers showed us.”

Johns also says the Rec Centre planned to end the program at the upcoming holiday break, but decided to close it early after the ASC co-ordinator “saw the writing on the wall,” and left for another job. Her last day with the program was Nov. 16, which is the same day it ended.

Johns also says Rec Centre staff checked into the after school programs at the schools at the end of September, and there was room then, but she notes that can change within a week or even a day.

She had thought all parents found alternative arrangements when the Record spoke to her Wednesday.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read