By Andru McCracken

The Province has announced funding for 72 new childcare spaces in Valemount that should be available for Spring 2022.

For Lina Thompson, the Executive Director of the Robson Valley Community Services (RVCS), the need for more childcare has been apparent since she moved to the valley.

“I’ve been harping on this for four years. The first thing you do as a parent is ask where is the childcare centre,” she said. “The thing I am most excited about is it will be a $10 a day daycare for parents.”

Thompson said that the new spaces will help organizations recruit new staff, help families relocate to the valley and allow parents to go back into the workforce if they choose to.

The Province thinks so too.

“For too long, families in these communities have found it difficult to find child care and these new projects will provide much-needed relief,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These new child care spaces in Prince George and Valemount mean more families will have access to this vital service, allowing more parents to participate in the community and economy.”

There will be 24 preschool spaces, 24 school-aged spaces and 24 group multi-age spaces in the RVCS Children’s Centre on the ground floor of a new women’s affordable housing building on 5th Avenue and will be operated by RVCS.

Childcare is part of a suite of programs, including parenting courses, after-hours family drop-in programs and newly announced: prenatal support.

The facility is expected to open in spring 2022.

Thompson says reducing the barriers to child care in the Village of Valemount is critical to the economic and social health of our community.

“The Valemount Children’s Centre will provide a socially stimulating, multicultural and community-oriented environment to help kids grow, learn and prosper in a space devoted to holistically nurturing childhood development, while addressing the physical, relational, emotional and intellectual aspects of a child’s life.”

The funding comes from Childcare BC New Spaces Fund and so far it has created 700 new licensed spaces each month across the province.

“By working in partnership with local municipalities, Indigenous governments, non-profits, school districts and other partners, we are creating child care spaces that meet the unique needs of communities across our province,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Together we are getting closer to our goal of giving B.C. families the quality, affordable child care they deserve.”

Making the difference
Thompson said without timely help from the Columbia Basin Trust they wouldn’t have been able to apply to the program.

“They helped us secure Mikola Development as our building development team. The Village of Valemount has been pretty progressive and helpful,” she said.
Owen Torgerson, Mayor of the Village of Valemount, said he values the commitment from the Province.

“The $2.88-million investment by the Province and the potential for $10-per-day child care will be of true benefit to parents. This will make a real difference for all families to ensure healthy early years for children.”

Thompson said that the spaces will create at least five direct jobs providing childcare and will complement spaces already offered by the Valemount Children’s Activity Centre and the Canoe Valley Community Association.

“One of the requirements was that this was a new childcare centre. It could not be a continuation or a transfer,” she said.

“RVCS is lucky we have quite a few fully licensed ECEs [Early Childhood Educators] already on board. We’ve run the supported child development program which supports children with any kind of special needs. We also have our infant development program to provide support to babies and moms that might have any challenges.”

She said the society has been providing childcare in McBride since 2003, they used their childcare experience to support the grant.