The child care centre will be located at Cumberland Community School. Photo by Mike Chouinard

The child care centre will be located at Cumberland Community School. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland child care construction could begin in September

“We have a lot of kids in the community that can’t get access to child care.”

Some in Cumberland might be concerned a new child care site at the school might push out existing providers.

This is not likely to happen though, say project proponents, as demand for the service is high. The new centre will provide 75 spaces for kids.

Ian Heselgrave, School District 71’s director of operations, told Cumberland council at the May 30 meeting that demand for child care is far greater than supply, with about 81 per cent of kids not having access, so the new site, a collaboration with the Village of Cumberland, will help meet this demand.

“We have a lot of kids in the community that can’t get access to child care,” he said. “We need everybody and then some.”

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He was updating council on public input and some of the design details of the project so far. The plan is for the building to be about 515 square metres, with four different rooms on site to meet demands for different age groupings. There would be 12 spaces for infants and toddlers, 16 for pre-school kids, eight multi-age spaces and 39 for before- and after-school programs.

There is some discretion as to the design, but the interior has to meet certain criteria for providing care.

“This is all driven by licensing,” Heselgrave said. “We have no wiggle room.”

The provincial grant was awarded in May 2021 for $2.95 million, or a little less than initially expected. This meant some omissions of features such as a peaked roof or a crawl space.

“We nipped and tucked wherever we can,” he said.

Other issues that came up from public feedback included traffic and site access, the location of the building on the property and the fate of trees on site. Heselgrave said the plan does take the trees into account.

“It allows to keep the largest trees that are on the site,” he said.

Heselgrave provided a timeline, from the design process earlier this year through the tendering, expected to go out in July. The hope is to begin construction in September with the aim of completing work next June, building occupancy in July and opening for September 2023.

Council members were pleased with the development for the site and the efforts to listen to the community on concerns such as trees and traffic.

“I think it’s going to be something that we’re all going to be very proud of,” Mayor Leslie Baird said.

Later in the meeting, council also approved a motion covering a draft memorandum of understanding between the school district and Cumberland to cover local government matters, such as sidewalks and equipment.

Kaelin Chambers, the village’s economic development officer, also touched on the need to work with current care providers about the need for service.

“We will continue to engage and talk to our service providers,” he said.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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Childcare