By Laura Keil

The Village of Valemount held a public hearing January 26th to rezone a future housing development on 5th avenue to allow a daycare.

Earlier this year, the Village rezoned the empty Village-owned lot next to the Valemount Health Centre to R5 to accommodate a proposed 3-story apartment with 14-units of affordable housing on the upper floors for women and children, a project spearheaded by Robson Valley Community Services’ (RVCS), BC Housing and the Village.

At the time, neither RVCS nor the Village had secured funding for the daycare part of the plan (originally drafted for the first floor), but in September the Province announced the Village of Valemount would receive $2.88M to create 72 new childcare spaces. The Village partnered with RVCS and BC Housing to fund the daycare portion of the housing project.

Village staff brought the matter back to Council (Since the R5 zoning does not allow a commercial daycare) with the public hearing part of the rezoning process.

The Banks family submitted a letter to the public hearing asking for clarification about the location. The letter said the executive director of RVCS had posted online that the location under the apartment was not ideal for a daycare due to the level of “coming and going” of people.

Council did not respond to the letter.

Who’s involved?
The proposed project on 5th Avenue is a partnership between RVCS, BC Housing, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and the Village of Valemount and the development consultant is M’akola

Development Services.
“RVCS is excited to be working on this proposed project to bring two much needed services to the community,” said RVCS Executive Director Lina Thompson in a statement to the Goat.

M’akola Development Services, the development consultant hired by RVCS and BC Housing, is helping to coordinate the project.

Katy Fabris, Senior Project Manager with M’akola, said they are in the design phase and, pending approvals from all partners, expect to submit a Development Permit to the Village in the spring and start construction later in 2021.

She said they are working with Boni-Maddison Architects on the building design.

Council decision
During the regular Council meeting that followed the public hearing Jan. 26th, the Village of Valemount gave 3rd reading to the rezoning application. They must still give fourth and final reading for the amendment to become law.

In September, the Village of Valemount was approved for $2.88M in capital grants to create 72 new childcare spaces: 24 preschool spaces, 24 school-aged spaces and 24 group multi-age spaces.

Village CAO Wayne Robinson said the Village is drawing up a partnership agreement with RVCS to be the Designated Operator of the daycare. By accepting the government grant, the Village is on the hook for providing childcare services for 15 yearsâ€a service it plans to outsource to RVCS.

Robinson said the building is a mash-up of partnerships and leases. The land is owned by the Village; the building will be owned and partially funded by BC Housing; the Village will lease the land to BC Housing for 60 years, after which time the building ownership will transfer to the Village; due to the daycare funding, BC Housing will lease back the first floor daycare area to the Village for a nominal amount. Finally, the Village will sub-lease the daycare area to RVCS, and the organization will become responsible for any upkeep of that space during the time of their lease.

RVCS has said childcare is part of a suite of programs they offer, including parenting courses, after-hours family drop-in programs and newly announced prenatal support.

The facility is expected to open in spring 2022.

RVCS executive director Lina Thompson told the Goat previously that 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.”