Children’s Circle Childcare Centre won’t be moving to Valleyview, after all.
On Friday morning, Children’s Circle Daycare Society, the non-profit that operates the day care, announced alongside Arpa Investments and the City of Kamloops plans to build a new $2.5-million 12,000-square-foot facility at 1430 Ninth Ave, at the corner of McMurdo Drive and Ninth Avenue in South Kamloops.
During a press event with a mountain view, board of directors secretary Amy Pannett called it a “dream location.” The downtown day care will be displaced at the end of the year due to Royal Inland Hospital expansion.
The society said the proposed location on Ninth Avenue is ideal due to its proximity to Kamloops School of the Arts and Lloyd George elementary, lot size, green space and convenience for families already accessing the day care’s services downtown. The facility would also allow expansion by at least 50 spaces and include after-school care for kids to age 12. Pannett said more than 300 people are on the non-profit’s waitlist.
“It’s a huge stress on families to not have childcare,” she said.
The new location comes in light of a land swap deal between the city and Arpa.
Arpa had purchased two lots in Valleyview — located at 1642 and 1646 Valleyview Dr. — to help the day care after news broke that it needed help finding a new home. However, Arpa Investments partner Joshua Knaak said the Valleyview lots caused the city concern about high traffic volumes, in terms of dropping off kids and having vehicles turning in and out of an already busy area. The lots are also located immediately next door to McCracken Station Pub and liquor store.
“This [McMurdo Drive and Ninth Avenue] is a location where it’s primed for pick-up and drop-off and the reality is the hours for the day care are offset by the peak hours for the school,” Knaak said. “So you’re not going to be getting that much more traffic. It’s just going to start a little bit earlier and perhaps end a little bit later. It’s issues like that that are more easily solved here than solved there.”
City of Kamloops real estate manager Dave Freeman said the land swap will cost the city $250,000 to service the South Kamloops site. He said the Valleyview lots were serviced, so the city decided it is a fair deal. The money will come out of the city’s affordable housing reserve, which is sitting at about $1.4 million. The two Valleyview lots will go into the city’s land reserve and are not yet earmarked for anything in particular, Freeman said, though he noted the significance of the lots in a commercial zone.
Also included in Arpa’s development plans are between eight and 10 affordable housing units.
The Ninth Avenue location was pegged for a 30-unit affordable housing project in 2011, but plans changed after the city received opposition from from area residents.
Knaak underlined the fact the housing has been scaled back — likely townhouses instead the previously pitched apartments — but said details have yet to be shored up.
“We just know that there’s a separate lot and down the road, there’s the potential for that,” Knaak said. “Again, just like we did with Spirit Square [in North Kamloops], you look at the community as a whole, what works and what’s a good fit — and then work with an agency or organization. That will be dealt with later. The priority is to get shovels in the ground for the day care.”
Knaak said he hopes to break ground this fall on the day care, following public consultation. Arpa will cover costs of construction and arrange a lease to own agreement with Children’s Circle Daycare Society. The property requires a site-specific rezoning to allow a day care as a permitted use.
Location, location, location:
The area on Ninth Avenue eyed for development is at the back of a large vacant space used frequently by the neighbourhood as a dog park. It is also home to an underground water reservoir, which cannot be built upon. A dirt road along the back would likely become the new entryway into the day care, but the ridge trail above would not be impacted.