The District has approved a new childcare plan, which is calling for a major increase in spaces amid Squamish's chronic ongoing daycare shortages.
On May 19, council voted unanimously in favour of endorsing the plan, which has set the goal of creating 720 new spaces by 2029.
As of September 2019, the access rate was 21%. In other words, for every 100 children up to 12 years old, there are 21 spaces available.
"We know this is not sufficient," said municipal planner Sarah McJannet. "Childcare spaces have not kept pace with growth in the community."
Breaking down the numbers further, there are licensed spaces for only one in five children aged 12 to 30 months.
There are licensed full-time spaces for less than half of kids between three and five years old
Finally, out-of-school care is available for 10% of school-aged- children.
"We have some work to do," said McJannet.
The goal is to raise the bar to 30% in a decade.
Before its final approval, the plan was put before council for feedback. There were minor adjustments made to the document, but the recommended high priority actions still stand.
It calls for guidelines for the creation of childcare space amenities in future developments.
The document urges the creation of affordable housing for early childhood educators, whose wages haven't been able to keep up with the cost of rent in town.
Updates to District childcare resources are another point. The plan also suggests the municipality create child-minding service and improving programming for seven-to-12-year-olds.
Finally, it called for creating stronger ties between the District and School District 48 for childcare initiatives.
"Often, 'women's issues'...get sidelined and don't get the attention they need or fall off the radar once reports get finished. And this one is too important for us to forget," said Mayor Karen Elliott.