Honourable Minister of State for Child Care, Grace Lore visited Kimberley on Thursday, Feb. 2 for a groundbreaking ceremony at Marysville Elementary, which was announced as the future home for a new $8.8 million childcare facility that will add 148 care spaces for children aged 0 to 10.
“It’s really great to be here in the community today,” Lore said in a scrum with media following the event.
“We know that there’s a demand and a need for before and after school care, we know that there’s a need for childcare, it opens up opportunities for parents and families, it’s learning for kids.”
The plan is for the facility to include 23 infant toddler spaces, 100 pre-school spaces and 24 after-school care spaces.
Karen Shipka, Superintendent of Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 (SD6), said that the process to get this facility built began about 18 months ago, and has developed in “record time.”
“We’ve had great support from the Ministry and the new spaces fund from the town of Kimberley and this is really the first step in our childcare plan across our district,” Shipka said. “We have a number of other facilities planned and we’ll roll them out one at a time as we get approval. We’re really excited to be able to make these changes in childcare and have that available to families in community.”
Shipka added that she wants to see construction start as soon as possible, with the next steps being a request for proposal (RFP) from an architect and then finding a contractor.
The process officially got underway in summer, 2022 when SD6, in partnership with Summit Comunity Services Society (SSCS) and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), made an application to the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund. Approval was received in January, 2023.
Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick spoke at the event, both as Mayor, but as CBT board member representative for the Regional District of East Kootenay.
“With the modest growth that we’ve had in the community over the last 10 or 15 years, the single biggest demographic that is coming to Kimberley is young families and it’s very difficult to keep infrastructure for all residents up to speed and childcare is one of those that has fallen behind the number of families that we have in the community,” McCormick said.
“This announcement, 148 new spaces, is an absolute game changer for so many families that are choosing to live here in Kimberley. It’s awesome.”
He added he loves Marysville Elementary as the site of this facility, not only for convenience for families, but because visitors driving into Kimberley down the highway “can see all the progress we’re making.”
“I think we are now viewed as a very progressive community,” he said, “and having this located beside the highway is only going to add to that.”
The facility is to be a free-standing structure and Shipka said the location was chosen because the need in the community is so great, and Marysville gives great access for people travelling to Cranbrook or vice versa.