The Squamish Nation is preparing to open its first daycare at Xwemelch’stn after the provincial government announced a $500,000 grant for the nation’s Mother Bear Child Development Program.
The new daycare will likely be built near the Joe Mathias Recreation Centre on the Capilano 5 Reserve, according to Kelley McReynolds, executive director for the nation’s Ayas Men Men Child and Family Services.
The province announced the grant would fund 40 new licensed child care spaces. However, the nation applied for 24 spots, leaving some uncertainty as to the size of the facility, according to McReynolds.
Once the kinks are worked out construction could begin as early as March, she said. “Ideally, I would like us to be open and operational by September but it’s all dependent on builders and the logistics around everything else,” she said.
The funding is intended to provide 16 spots for school-aged children, 16 spots for children between three and five, and eight spots for children younger than three.
While the funding is “fantastic,” North Vancouver needs far more, according to North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma. “It’s a start,” she said.
The most common child care concerns among parents are cost, flexibility and being stuck on a waitlist, according to North Shore Neighbourhood House executive director Lisa Hubbard. NSNH operates about 500 child care spaces and is currently focusing on creating more after-school spots.
“Forty spots is great but we would need a lot more than 40 spots to problem-solve child care on the North Shore,” Hubbard said.
The funding is part of a province-wide initiative slated to allocate $33 million to 103 child care projects across B.C.