Vernon families will soon have access to more than 200 daycare spaces after the city was awarded $7 million in grant funding from the province and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).
“We are thrilled about this news, knowing what a positive impact more child care spaces will make on our community as a whole,” Mayor Victor Cumming said.
“By providing and improving local childcare options, we will be able to offer more parents much needed support to participate in the workforce, advance their careers, operate businesses, provide professional services or attend school or training.”
Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, in partnership with the City of Vernon, will operate the two new licensed facilities which are slated to open fall 2022.
“We have a long history in Vernon of offering programs to children of all ages out of our Vernon Club and we couldn’t be happier about the chance to expand and upgrade our current programming in order to increase spaces at our Club,” director of operations Jeremy Welder said.
One facility will be built on the vacant lot on Cummins Road near the Lakers Clubhouse. This will have the capacity for 36 children under 36 months and 50 children between 30 months and school age.
The second facility, to be developed on Vernon Recreation Complex grounds, will provide 96 spots for children between 30 months and school age and another 24 spots for children under 36 months — thanks to the $1-million grant from the UBCM Community Child Care Space Creation program.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development’s ChildCare BC New Spaces Fund provided $6 million.
“We are grateful for the investment the province and UBCM are making in our community,” Recreation Programs manager Shayne Wright said.
“With this funding, we can now take a major step forward in the Greater Vernon Child Care Space Action Plan, where our vision is to increase child-care availability for all children aged 0-12 in the next five years.”
The ministry’s grant will also fund 84 new spaces, including 24 infant/toddler spaces, 25 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten, 10 preschool spaces and 25 spaces for school-aged children, to the Maven Lane Early Childhood Learning Centre across from Coldstream Elementary.
These spaces are expected to open by December 2022 and are in addition to the 32 spaces announced in July 2020.
“The child care spaces in the new Coldstream facility will provide much-needed support to families in our community as they return to work and school,” Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick said.
In total, the provincial funding will open 266 child care spaces in the Vernon-Monashee riding; a welcomed addition MLA Harwinder Sandhu said.
“These new child care spaces are an investment in our future and will give children a safe, nurturing place to learn and grow, for generations to come,” she said.