District eyes daycare incentives

There aren’t enough daycare spaces in Squamish: Chapelle

Municipal officials are looking into ways to cut red tape for new daycares – businesses that are sorely needed in a community in which 340 babies were born last year, says councillor Susan Chapelle.

There are 624 daycare spaces in Squamish, Chapelle told District of Squamish officials at a council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 19. Of those, 24 are registered as license-not-required, meaning a care provider is watching her or his own children plus up to two more children or a sibling group. 

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Ninety-one Squamish daycares fall under the licensed family childcare, which is similar to a license-not-required facility, but allows for seven children other than the care provider’s own children. It also stipulates the age groups within their care. 

The numbers come from this month, Chapelle said, noting she approached the Sea to Sky Community Services to acquire them. Chapelle put forward a motion for district staff to examine developing policy to incentivize the creation of daycare spaces. 

When you add the community’s birth rate to the number of new families moving to town, the daycare spaces quickly fill up, Chapelle said. Squamish has the highest percentage of residents in B.C. under 14 years.

“You have to put your child on the list before it is born,” she said, noting many places have a two-year waitlist. 

With the exception of Mayor Rob Kirkham, council backed the motion after re-crafting its wording. The original motion pinpointed building permits and business licensing fees as possible incentives. Without knowing the financial implications, the initial motion was difficult to support, Coun. Ron Sander said. 

Coun. Patricia Heintzman questioned whether it captured enough incentives, while Coun. Bryan Raiser said the business licensing wasn’t a barrier for want-to-be daycares. 

“There is a huge list of things to go through,” Raiser said, adding he’d looked into it.

Daycares are ultimately businesses, Coun. Doug Race said. He expressed concern about favouring one type of business over another and the wisdom in awarding new daycares, while existing daycares are left on the sidelines. 

District staff don’t know the specific challenges for Squamish daycares, the municipality’s chief administrative officer Corien Speaker said. Staff needs more information to draft a policy, she added. 

“We don’t know yet how broad these incentives should be.”

Municipal staff will delve into the issue and return to council with a report. 

There’s a shortage of daycare spaces throughout B.C., states the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of B.C. Childcare. Openings accommodate 19 per cent of the province’s youth, the coalition’s spokesperson Sharon Gregson told the Squamish Chief last February. 

On top of it all, 80 per cent of mothers are in the workforce, she noted. 

 

 

Squamish Daycare Stats

 

Licensed Family Child Care

91

Multi-Age Child Care

24

Multi-Age Group Child Care

8

Occasional Care

8

Group Child Care under 36 months

60

Group Child Care over 36 months

215

Preschool, less then four years

108

Out of school care

104

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