British Columbia

Thompson Rivers University converting former industrial building into unique childcare and education centre

A former ginseng warehouse is being converted into a non-profit daycare space for about 100 kids that will also be the site of the school's early childhood education program.

Space will house both a non-profit daycare and early childcare education students

Laura Doan, co-ordinator of TRU's early childhood education diploma program (front) and Airini, dean of education and social work (back), stand inside a former ginseng warehouse that will be converted into a child-care centre and teaching facility near the school's Kamloops campus. (Shelley Joyce/CBC News)

A new childcare centre planned to open in the spring of 2022 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., is being hailed by staff as the first of its kind in Canada.

The school has purchased a former industrial building located near the campus and is spending about $7 million to renovate it.

Once home to a ginseng company, the space is intended to not only house a non-profit daycare, but also be the site of TRU's early childhood education program and affiliated research.

The university's dean of education and social work says she does not know of a similar setup anywhere in the country.

"This is a unique experience that it's very hard not to get goosebumps over," Airini, who does not use a surname, told the CBC's Shelley Joyce during a tour of the space.

'This is as big as our commitment and it's enormous,' said Airini, dean of education and social work at TRU, about the cavernous space that will accommodate almost 100 kids needing child care, alongside an education centre. (Shelley Joyce/CBC )

The university has applied to the City of Kamloops to rezone the property, located at 1274 McGill Rd., from light industrial to educational.

According to an administrative report from the city, the plans are for the centre to occupy a 9,945-square metre portion of the property and the daycare portion of the centre to be 862 square metres, with the remaining 1,107 square metres in floor area to be used for teaching and research.

"It's industrial space but going to be filled with the industry of little ones' voices and creativity," said Airini.

The daycare will be able to accommodate up to 94 kids. Parents who are not affiliated with TRU are eligible to use the services, although TRU students and staff will be prioritized.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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