The City of Enderby has adopted a number of actions to make child care options more abundant in the future.
City council reviewed the Enderby Childcare Action Plan at its May 4 meeting before adopting its recommendations list in full.
Compiled by Kara Wilhelms for the City of Enderby, the report’s recommendations include updating the city’s zoning bylaw to allow child care facilities in all commercial zones. The bylaw had previously permitted facilities only in the city’s institutional zone.
“If prospective childcare providers didn’t have a property that was zoned for that, they would have to go through the re-zoning process,” said planner and deputy corporate officer Kurt Inglis. “By permitting it in all commercial zones, it’s just one less hurdle for a prospective childcare provider to have to go through.”
The city will also monitor grant opportunities to help fund open houses, information sessions and training opportunities for prospective childcare providers, and has sent a letter to the provincial government advocating for an increase in early childhood education initiatives.
“One of the downfalls right now is it’s very intensive training for people to get into the field, and then when they do get into the field the wages aren’t super high,” Inglis said. “So we’re looking for the provincial government to do whatever they can to make that field a little bit more attractive.”
Community engagement for Enderby’s child care planning project began in August 2019 and ended in January 2020. The research team engaged 129 participants including parents and caregivers, members of city council, School District 83 staff, childcare providers and Indigenous partners.
Research conducted through online surveys, focus groups and interviews found that 75 per cent of families see an inadequate supply of licensed child care in the Enderby area.
On affordability, 52 per cent of respondents said they could not afford the cost of child care, and on flexibility, 31 per cent said they required child care outside of the usual daytime, business week hours (Monday- Friday; 7:30am-5:30pm).
The report projects the growth in demand for child spaces in the city from 2021 to 2030. Children ages 0-2 have the greatest need for additional space in that timeframe, currently being 54 spaces shy of the 2030 target. The 6-12 age group is short of that target by 46 spaces.
Little growth is needed for the the 3-5 year age group, allowing for a more concentrated effort for 0-2 years and 6-12 years, according to the action plan.
“We’re happy that we went through the process and were able to identify what the current context is for childcare within Enderby,” Inglis said.
“It allows us to gain a stronger understanding of childcare opportunities in the future and what the City of Enderby and other stakeholders throughout the region and the province can do to better support childcare in town.”