Relief is on the way for the child care crunch in Greater Victoria, communities north of the Malahat and across B.C.
The announcement came Monday that the province is adding 251 new licensed child-care spaces in Greater Victoria, a $2.7 million investment from the province’s Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.
Up-Island, Campbell River is getting 98 spaces, Chemainus 18, Courtenay 38, Duncan 112, Gabriola Island 32, Mill Bay 28, Nanaimo 48, Qualicum Beach 36, Royston 19, and Sooke 37, in a total investment of about $4.6 million.
It’s part of a $33-million plan to create more than 3,800 child-care spaces in B.C. More than half of the planned 3,800 new spaces in B.C. are at non-profit run centres and a fifth are at Indigenous child-care providers.
Among those benefitting is the previously threatened child care program at the University of Victoria is getting $500,000 from the province to build a new facility and will increase its numbers by 32 to 116 for next year.
“The funding will allow us to transform Child Care Complex B into two new child care centres, creating 32 new spaces for preschool aged children of UVic students, faculty and staff families,” said Jim Forbes, director of campus services at UVic.
A big addition is also coming for Arbutus Grove Children’s Centre, which will add 48 new out-of-school-care spots for Frank Hobbs elementary students, kindergarten to Grade 5, and 12 new nature preschool spots for children three to five.
“It’s 60 new child care spaces that we’re excited about,” said director Lynn Young.
To make room Arbutus is building a new space on Frank Hobbs SD61 land.
Meanwhile construction already started at UVic’s Child Care Complex B in October. The renovations will transform the current large, open, interior space of the 1993-built Complex B into two new child care centres with a shared kitchen and separate exterior entrances.
Around B.C. the province is in the process of working with child-care providers to sign project agreements that include the specific requirements identified for each site, such as property needs (for lease or purchase), local zoning permits and the hiring of contractors to renovate the sites.
“These 251 new spaces are just a start, and we know there’s more work to do,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South.
The new child-care spaces are part of the B.C. government’s long-term goal of implementing universal child care in B.C.