Cumberland is getting ready to work with School District 71 on an agreement for a new child care site in the community.
The village learned in May its joint application with the school district for a roughly $3 million grant to provide an additional 85 spaces in the growing community was approved.
“Eighty-five spaces is significant, it’s a lot,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.
Kaelin Chambers, Cumberland’s economic development officer, updated council at the June 14 meeting about the next steps for the project.
“The first thing is to work with the school district to come to an agreement and understanding,” he said.
The plan is to devise a framework to cover needs in the community for at least the next 15 years. Another priority, Chambers said, was to identify how project management will be overseen. This, in turn, will cover aspects of the project such as design and construction of the community facility on school grounds, as well as other improvements to the site like curbs and sidewalks.
The time frame is for planning to occur over the next six months, with construction and site development in 2022. The target for opening is January or February 2023, but Chambers said the community has already been fielding calls from people interested in early childhood care and education.
Mayor Leslie Baird was pleased to hear of the funding announcement, though she added there is still much to be done before the project is ready.
“I know we’ve got a long road to go,” she said.
Ketler said she did have some concerns about staff capacity in moving a large project along for the proposed opening.
“It’s a pretty tight timeline,” she added.
While council members were happy about the grant, Coun. Vickey Brown was curious to know whether the space to be built will house one care provider or multiple operators. She also questioned whether the school grounds are the best location for a facility.
Chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said the village has already started discussions with the school district, adding they will be looking to learn from similar projects on Vancouver Island.
“We’re not the first to go down this path,” he said.
Staff applied to the BC Childcare New Spaces fund in November 2020 for the amount of $2,950,000 to provide more child care spaces.