BC Minister of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Katrine Conroy was in Castlegar Tuesday for the official opening of the Blueberry Creek Community School’s (BCCS) new infant and toddler daycare.
The opening of the daycare has created 12 new childcare spaces and three full-time employment positions.
“In my role as the minister, this is my first childcare facility opening and it is really exciting to be able to do it in my own community,” said Conroy after she and Columbia Basin Trust board member Gord DaRosa cut the ribbon for the new daycare space.
“We know there is a real need for infant toddler [spaces] in the province. We have been hearing that since the 110 days since I have been the minister,” added Conroy.
“We are also hearing that we need affordable, accessible, quality childcare and this is exactly what you have here. We want to make sure we can duplicate this across the province. I think it is great what you guys have done — congratulations,” she said.
The project has been unfolding since BCCS applied for major capital funding from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development in February 2016.
One of the school’s former classrooms was renovated into an infant and toddler space complete with a sleep room, an active area, kitchen space and a bathroom. There is also an outdoor playground suitable for the zero-to-three age group. The project also included replacing two-thirds of the school’s roof.
The total cost of the project was about $150,000. The BC MCFD contributed around $110,000, Columbia Basin Trust contributed $30,000 and the remainder came fundraising and efforts from the school’s supporters.
“We are happy to offer this program because our community really needs these kinds of programs for children,” said BCCS board of directors chair Jen Carter. “There are so many new families coming and so many little kids that need places to be when their families are working.”
The executive director of the school, Rebecca McDonnell, thanked all of the volunteers, staff, contractors, officials and those who lobbied on behalf of more infant and toddler childcare spaces for Castlegar.
There is currently one open space left in the new daycare.
BCCS has also recently received the Platinum award for daycare/preschool centres from Kootenay Business Magazine’s Best of Business Awards.