Construction has started on a new downtown childcare centre. The facility will provide 85 new childcare spaces, including 12 infant/toddler spaces, 25 group childcare spaces for children ages 30 months to school age, and 48 school-age spaces.
The site, located along Queensway next to the Park House Condominiums, will be operated by the YMCA and called the YMCA Park House Care and Early Learning Centre.
“The YMCA is thrilled to be able to support Prince George parents and caregivers to have access to quality, affordable, early learning and child care in downtown Prince George,” said YMCA of Northern BC CEO, Amanda Alexander, in a news release. “There is a tremendous demand for child care in the downtown core and given the increased need to support, in particular, women and vulnerable parents being able to return to work given the impacts of the pandemic, the YMCA Parkhouse Care and Early Learning Centre will help meet this need.”
The City of Prince George received grant funding from the Government of BC and the Union of BC Municipalities to construct the project. The facility is being built at a fixed price by A&T Project Development Inc. in collaboration with PRD Construction of Prince George.
The city has also contracted Colliers Project Leaders to provide project management services to help ensure that timelines and budgets associated with the facility are met. This is one of a number of initiatives council is pursuing to improve the management process of capital projects.
The project was announced last September, and funding was awarded after the city made a $3 million grant application to the province’s Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. An additional $1 million in funding has been provided through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Community Child Care Space Creation Program. The city’s grant application demonstrated the need for more local childcare spaces, as identified in a City Childcare Needs Assessment, which was informed by a survey of more than 800 residents in 2019 and presented to Council last year.
The assessment revealed a high degree of need among residents for increased childcare spaces for all age groups, but particularly for infant, toddler, and school age care. Families also reported significant difficulty in accessing care according to their specific needs, with downtown spaces being particularly hard to secure.
The YMCA Park House Care and Early Learning Centre is scheduled to open in late 2021.