B.C. invests $4.6M to create 439 new childcare spaces in Victoria
'It's a win all the way around and it's really serving our communities,' says school board chair
British Columbia's provincial government has invested $4.6 million to create 439 new childcare spaces in six elementary schools across Victoria.
The funds come from the province's Childcare B.C. New Spaces program, which gives school boards and municipalities $1 million per project to partner with non-profit organizations and offer new childcare spaces.
Katrina Chen, B.C. Minister of State for Child Care, said the province has received many applications since the program was announced in June.
"We currently have approved over 1,000 new licensed new childcare spaces over B.C. We will be making those announcements in the coming weeks and months," Chen told All Points West host Robyn Burns.
Construction on the new spaces will get underway in the next few months, Chen said, and the spaces will be open by next year.
Jordan Waters, board chair of the Greater Victoria School District, said the new spaces will be at the following schools:
- Doncaster Elementary.
- Frank Hobbs Elementary.
- Macaulay Elementary.
- Tillicum Elementary.
- Victoria West Elementary.
- Willows Elementary.
About two thirds of the spaces will be for before-and-after school care, Waters said. Because school space is at a premium, most of them will be on school grounds in portables — which Waters called "learning studios."
"We're pretty excited. It's a very innovative model and it's going to make sure that we're putting childcare where it's most needed," she said.
Waters said she has already been getting calls about when the first spaces will be available.
"It really just shows how critically needed these spaces are," she said.
"Parents are desperate."
As for the cost for each space, Waters said she didn't know yet, but she believes they will be offered at market or below-market rates. Waters said the school district is planning to submit applications for 16 more projects.
"I mean it just makes sense. It's a win. It's a win all the way around and it's really serving our communities," she said.
"Parents and families, they need this and they're asking for it."
Earlier this year the province said it plans to create 22,000 new child care spaces across B.C. by 2021.