Dawson City needs new daycare to keep up with demand

Dawson City's daycare has more children on the waitlist than it has spaces, which has renewed a call to replace its gold rush-era building with something larger.

Current daycare building has 20 spaces, more children on the waitlist than currently in program

Dawson City's Little Blue Daycare has been in use since 1979, but the town's Society for Children and Families says demand has gotten too high for the small space. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

In the winter, Dawson City's Little Blue Daycare is hard to keep warm. In the spring, the roof leaks, and water drips through light fixtures in the ceiling.

The Dawson Society for Children and Families has operated the daycare out of the same gold rush-era building since 1979.

But society chair Elise McCormick said without a new building, the daycare will continue to fall short of meeting the demand for childcare in Dawson.

Despite receiving $50,000 for repairs from the Yukon government in March, society chair Elise McCormick says the building is too small to meet the demand for childcare.

"When you're dealing with those sorts of environmental conditions, it's difficult to keep your attention on what you need to be doing, which is helping to facilitate the learning of the children that are with you," she said.

A long wait

The daycare already has more kids on the waiting list than it has spaces. And a building assessment last year forced the daycare to reduce the number of spaces from 24 to 20. 

"For new families that are coming to Dawson or for families that are already here, it doesn't look good," she said.

A 2013 assessment urged the Yukon government to build a permanent space for prenatal and child development programs.

McCormick says those programs could be located in a new daycare building. 

"We really need a facility that's designed to be a childcare facility, so we're looking into getting a building that we can design around our needs and it can help us deliver the quality of care that the kids here need," she said.

She said the society has a piece of land owned by the town in mind for the new facility. The value of a nearby vacant lot is around $50,000, but that price tag could come down, based on the size of the building and the amount of public amenities, like a garden, the site included.

But McCormick said the society doesn't know how the society would cover the estimated $1 million cost of construction.


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