Kamloops day-care centre seeks help in securing new site

Children’s Circle Childcare Centre's lease expires in June 2019. Staff at the non-profit care for about 50 kids in question

A non-profit day care caught in a “chicken and egg” situation is asking for help securing a new home.

Children’s Circle Childcare Centre, located downtown at 904 Third Ave. above St. Ann’s Academy, is being displaced as a result of construction of Royal Inland Hospital’s patient care tower, a $417-million capital project expected to be completed in 2022.

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The day care, which looks after about 50 Kamloops kids, has been operating for more than two decades in the building, which is leased from Interior Health. That lease will expire on June 30, 2019.

“This tower is an important addition to the hospital and will support patients for years to come,” IH spokesman Kevin Parnell said in an emailed statement. “Adequate and accessible parking is vital to the success of the project and the site of the day care will be utilized as a surface parking lot.”

Priority for child care was historically given to Interior Health employees by Children’s Circle Daycare Society, which was created in the 1990s to address demand in Kamloops.

Manager Colleen Malcolm said the non-profit was getting a good deal from IH and leasing a new space would mean sacrificing quality of services to kids or risking financial insecurity in future years.

Purchasing land and building a new day care is the most sustainable option, Malcolm said, and would also allow the society to add spaces as demand grows. The society envisions building a new day care facility for up to 120 children.

Malcolm said there is a lengthy waitlist.

“Like, I could phone these people who wanted to get on our list back in February and they probably want a spot, which is such a shame,” she said.

The problem for the non-profit comes down to securing land on which to build. It has identified a parcel to purchase, but Malcolm said the society can’t get a loan. She said the non-profit has been turned away by major lenders concerned about negative publicity that could result from foreclosing on a non-profit day care should the loan default.

As a non-profit, Malcolm said there is not large sums of money in reserve.

She said grants are available for building a facility, but not for purchasing land. The society’s recent pie sale raised $1,000, Malcolm said, noting fundraising to buy property would take too long.

“We’re talking about the chicken and the egg,” she said. “We’re constantly going back and forth. If we have nobody to help us go forward, we can’t build that building.”

The non-profit said it could pull equity out of a second day care it opened a decade ago for infants and toddlers on St. Paul Street or potentially sell that building. That facility cares for nearly 30 youngsters.

“If, by chance, we got the money to have the land and we were able to have both buildings, we would keep both buildings,” Malcolm said.

Parnell said Interior Health recognizes the importance of day care for parents, including hospital staff, and said it is in “ongoing discussions with the society on ways we may be able to partner in their transition to a new location.”

Malcolm said the society spoke in the past to Interior Health about potentially giving the day care space, though it never came to fruition. She is now looking to the community for help.

“Maybe someone out in the community can say, ‘You know what, we can lend you this much money. Here, go buy your land. Start your building,’” Malcolm said.

“Because to actually lose a centre that has 50 children in it? It’s going to be devastating to Kamloops itself.”

Malcolm can be reached by phone at 250-314-5033 and by email at stpauls@ccdaycare.ca. For more information on theChildren’s Circle Childcare Centre, go online to ccdaycare.ca.

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