The City of Williams Lake was thrilled to view progress on construction and major renovations at the new childcare facility on the former School District 27 Columneetza secondary campus dormitory building during a site visit and tour on Thursday, December 21.
Mayor Surinderpal Rathor, members of Council and staff were among guests invited by SD27 to view the facility while offering support for the project in the form of a $100,000 contribution, as well as compensation for building permitting fees, totalling $136,642. SD27 Superintendent Chris van der Mark said the funds will be used to offset some of the costs incurred by school district to complete the project.
In 2022, the estimated $5.5 million project received $3 million in financial support from the Provincial Government’s ChildCareBC New Spaces fund. Work on the project – which will feature two floors designated for child care space, along with an outdoor play area – began in the summer of 2023. The childcare facility is expected to be opened in time for the start of the school year in September of 2024.
“We were so happy to see the progress the school district has made on this project and are excited to see the transformation of this underutilized asset into something that will serve parents and children in the community for years to come,” Rathor said during the visit.
The SD27-led project was kickstarted after multiple organizations and childcare service providers in the community brought a shortage of childcare spaces to the City’s attention in 2019.
“The result was a large community effort to get a Childcare Spaces and Needs Assessment completed, which was an essential piece of the application to the New Spaces Fund,” Beth Veenkamp, City Manager of Economic Development said. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to be able to contribute to something so critical for the community and local labour market.”
Once the SD27 project is completed, the facility will house 117 new childcare spaces. SD27, Thompson Rivers University and community operators have also been working to bring Early Childhood Education training to the community to help meet the demand for certified ECE workers the new facility will have.
“We are very hopeful that with the new spaces our local labour market will get a lift in participation as parents will have the ability to return to work knowing that they have reliable childcare available to them,” Rathor said.
Beth Veenkamp, Manager of Economic Development
City Hall: 250.392.2311