Nova Scotia

Lily Pads, Halifax daycare, shuts down after weekend flood

A daycare in Halifax's north end has closed its doors for good, two weeks earlier than expected after a weekend flood and parents are left wondering if they'll get back the hundreds of dollars they've paid for this month's child care.

Owner Kirk MacDonald says he doesn't have money to repay parents or keep operating

Melissa Mosher is spending Monday driving her two-year-old son to Cape Breton and leaving him with family because she says she can't afford to pay double for daycare for the next two weeks. (CBC)

A daycare in Halifax's north end that serves 22 children has closed its doors for good, two weeks earlier than expected following a weekend flood.

The shutdown is forcing some parents to scramble to find child care, including a single mother who is driving to Cape Breton so her two-year-old son can stay with family.

"It's horrible, only because I don't have anybody to watch him. My family all lives in Cape Breton," she said. "It's hard on him, extremely, and it's hard on us."

Mosher says she had to take the day off work and can't afford to pay double for child care for the next two weeks. She says the daycare operator has said refunds won't be offered.

Kirk MacDonald, who owns Lily Pads, says a weekend flood sped up plans to close at the end of the month because it's unclear if the centre is safe for use. (CBC)

Lily Pads Child Care, located on Agricola Street near Almon Street, was planning to shut down Nov. 27 due to financial problems, says owner Kirk MacDonald.

He says he doesn't know if a pipe that burst in the centre's ceiling on the weekend created safety issues when it flooded the centre, but says it sped up the plans to close. MacDonald sent out a notice on Facebook to parents Sunday saying the daycare couldn't open Monday because of it.

Regardless of the damage, MacDonald says he can't afford to stay open, in part because half of the parents haven't paid for November.

"They've put me in a tough situation because I'm pretty certain they're not going to pay because of this. So essentially we have no money in the bank and I was counting on that money coming in," he said.

Brian Bylhouwer, whose two children attend the daycare, says his family is out $800 because they paid for care until the end of the month. (CBC)

"I know those parents are looking for a refund and if I can I will, but today there's just no funds now. Priority one is making sure staff are paid for the time they've worked."

MacDonald says the closure has been in the works for about a year due to declining enrolment and outstanding financial obligations he has to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

"The business has always struggled. We've always tried to keep the bar high. And because of that we didn't always pay the CRA the money they were owed and because of that they came knocking," he said.

MacDonald says licensed daycares face competition from unlicensed facilities. Adding to that, through the centre's six years in operation, he says they frequently had students drop out when families moved away. There are now 10 empty spots.

"If you want to do it right, if you want to treat your staff well, provide nutritious meals, it's very expensive. That creates a real disconnect because already parents find it too expensive. As an industry it's in really tough shape," he said.

Monday morning staff opened the centre so parents could drop by to collect their children's belongings and say goodbye.

'I don't think people are getting straight answers'

Brian Bylhouwer says he and his wife are scrambling to find care for their two young children. They lined up a new daycare, but didn't expect to need it until the end of the month.

The family says they're now out $800.

"I don't think parents are getting straight answers. I think that's the most frustrating part," said Bylhouwer.

"We just want to know if we're going to get our money back, or if we'll be able to come back. Is [the damage] that bad that we can't come back for two weeks?"

Bylhouwer says his wife is going to try to stay home and work in the evenings until their two children can start at a new daycare.

The centre employs five people and some staff say they're now worried about finding work and paying for Christmas expenses.

"I just hope they can find a new place, sooner rather than later," said Bylhouwer. 

The daycare's owner says a broken pipe flooded the centre with several centimetres of water on Sunday. (CBC)

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