Victoria should create and implement a city-wide child-care action plan to increase access to child care in neighbourhoods across the city, say Coun. Jeremy Loveday and Mayor Lisa Helps.
The two are proposing that council commit to developing such a plan and, as a first step, they are recommending the city apply for planning funding from the provincial government.
Loveday said child care is “one piece of the affordability puzzle.”
“I see it as our role to work with partners to make sure that our residents have access to affordable child care,” Loveday said.
“I’ve heard from many residents over the last few years that this is a major concern and something that’s keeping families from being able to live and stay in our community.”
The province has earmarked $2.85 million for the Community Child Care Planning Program, under which eligible projects can receive up to $25,000 to create child-care action plans, the two say in a report going to councillors this week.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 18, 2019.
Loveday said the plan would build on work already done by Victoria’s child-care-solutions working group to identify and eliminate barriers to development of new child-care facilities; determine how the city might provide incentives for the creation of child-care spaces in new development; and investigate how city-owned facilities might be better used for child care.
Last week, the province, in partnership with the Greater Victoria School District, announced 439 new spaces are on the horizon for the capital region.
The new spaces are expected open late next year and are funded by $4.6 million from the Childcare B.C. New Spaces Fund. The Greater Victoria School District was the first agency to qualify for funding through the program, which allows school boards to partner with non-profit agencies to apply for up to $1 million per facility.
Six elementary schools will have child care, with 66 spaces at Doncaster Elementary, 85 at Frank Hobbs Elementary, 37 at Macaulay Elementary, 91 at Tillicum Elementary, 57 at Vic West Elementary and 103 at Willows Elementary.
Victoria’s child-care-solutions working group has spent the past 18 months collaborating with School District 61 and other community partners and has set a goal of opening at least 300 new child-care spaces in the next four years.
— With files from Katie DeRosa