The Kamloops Child Development Centre is in the midst of constructing a third building on its property — located across the street from McDonald Park on Holway Street in North Kamloops — and plans to add dozens of new child-care spaces.
It is unclear at this time if those spaces will be included in the $10-a-day day-care program currently being prototyped on the property, as the centre is waiting to learn more information from the provincial government on that pilot project.
Education director Helen Blair said the third building, which will accommodate the centre’s after-school program, is expected to be completed at the end of August.
“It looks like a castle,” she said, noting children have also been captivated by machinery onsite to construct the building. “That’s just what the kids call it. They think it looks like a castle.”
The centre currently has 121 spaces. The new building will allow for 41 new spaces, meaning the centre will have a total of 162 spaces by the fall. The centre received a grant to help fund the additional child-care spaces.
The new building will allow the centre to expand space for after-schoolers (13 new spots), ages three to five (16 new spots) and infant/toddlers (12 new spots).
While new openings are pending, the centre already has a two-year-wait list from which it will be filling the spaces. Multiple phone calls and emails are received daily inquiring about day-care space, but the centre has capped the waitlist at two years, so people are, unfortunately, currently being turned away.
“There isn’t enough child care,” Blair said. “And I hope it’s [waitlist] so long because we are a terrific centre. We’re a nature-based centre and we do have a pretty nice playground in the back, which is built like a nature park. Our children spend most of their day outside.”
Already a facility of innovation — equipped with that large natural outdoor playground and among the limited number of child-care centres chosen by the province to test $10-a-day day-care — the new third building is equipped with solar panels.
Blair said the building will be run entirely by solar energy and may also produce enough power to run part of one of the centre’s other buildings.
Blair said the project began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some kinks have occurred in the construction process.
Walls for the building were aboard a truck that collided with the Tranquille Road overpass across Fortune Drive, an incident that made headlines in April. New walls had to be constructed quickly.
In addition, a stop work order on one of the older buildings being renovated has been issued, due to the presence of asbestos. Blair said the order was expected to be lifted this week.
“Everything’s fine,” she said. “We had to get the guys to come in and clean, make sure everything’s safe and good. It should be finished by the end of the week (May 15). Half of the building’s opened, half of the building is closed for a short time. … It didn’t impact us too much because we’re an outdoor centre.”