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Kootenay Family Place – Hobbit House

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Imagine coming to work and finding extensive water damage throughout your place of business. That very scenario happened to Kootenay Family Place's Hobbit Hill Children's Centre back in October leaving the daycare centre scrambling to find spots for children in their programs.

"It was Oct. 5, our director of finance, Connie Relkoff, opened the doors and went to turn on lights and noticed that the whole upstairs floor was covered in water," said Sally Bojechko, director of child care for Kootenay Family Place (KFP). "What happened was one of the toilets was broken and had been running all night. She came downstairs and it was raining through the ceiling."

Parents started to arrive at 6:45 a.m. and were told they had to make alternate arrangements.

"We had to shutdown our services immediately," said Bojechko. "In addition, a number of children moved to KFP's Selkirk College facility. The remaining families used family, friends, and neighbours to look after their children."

Hobbit Hill, which provides full daycare for kids aged 3-5 and after school care for older children, was forced to shut down their two programs immediately.

"We were able to get back-up space for our school aged children at Twin Rivers," said Bojechko. "Our three to five program upstairs like I said, a number went to Selkirk College, while about 20 families made other arrangements for a period of about three weeks."

The building had to have extensive repairs before Hobbit Hill was able to reopen.

"The walls had to be painted, new ceiling, new flooring, the walls had to be replaced," said Jim Fisher, executive director for Kootenay Family Place. "Water ran into the furnace and had to be cleared out. All the equipment, especially downstairs, was wet and most of it had to be thrown out and replaced. We lost a lot of equipment."

Fisher wants to remind people that Hobbit Hill is open again.

"We want to make sure everyone in the community knows we're back open and taking referrals," he said.

Hobbit Hill not only provides after school care for school-aged children, but before school care as well as care for professional development days and school holidays.

"It's a huge program for local families to rely on, working families," said Fisher. "It's been a real hardship. But most of the families have come back even though they found alternative care for their kids, they're coming back.

"We are very appreciative of families for being supportive," said Fisher. "We also want to thank the fire marshall for being so supportive, and Twin Rivers School for helping us out so quickly."

Kootenay Family Place and Hobbit Hill Children's Centre have been in Castlegar for 40 years. Hobbit Hill is one of six licensed child care programs run by KFP.