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Prince George to get 85 new licensed childcare spaces, new downtown childcare centre

Spaces to be created at the YMCA Park House Care and Early Learning Centre
Prince George and Valemount are getting 145 new childcare spaces. (via File photo)

North-central B.C. families will soon have access to more licensed childcare spaces and a new downtown childcare centre, thanks to the province's commitment to meet child-care needs as COVID-19 continues.

Prince George is set to receive 85 new childcare spaces, while Valemount will be getting 72 spots.

“The development of new child care spaces, particularly in our downtown core, helps to fulfill a critical need that was clearly demonstrated by the city's child care needs assessment,” says Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall in a news release today (Sept. 9).  

“This will greatly benefit families in our community and will help to attract families to our downtown neighbourhoods. This investment in child care along with the new condos, student housing and pool development will greatly improve and enhance our downtown core."

The spaces are being provided through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund and the Union of BC Municipalities' (UBCM) Community Child Care Space Creation Program.

The fund is supporting Prince George to create 73 new child care spaces, which includes 25 group spaces (ages 30 months to school age) and 48 school-age spaces at a branch new facility called YMCA of Northern BC's Park House Care and Early Learning Centre.

The new centre will be constructed downtown across from city hall and next to the Park House Condominium and above the City parkade development. The facility will be operated by the YMCA.

"For too long, families in these communities have found it difficult to find child care, and these new projects will provide much-needed relief," said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development in a news release.

"These new child care spaces in Prince George and Valemount mean more families will have access to this vital service, allowing more parents to participate in the community and economy."

The funding is the result of the City's successful $3 million grant application to the Province's Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. In addition, the City has also received $1 Million in funding through the Union of BC Municipalities Community (UBCM) Child Care Space Creation Program for 12 infant/toddler spaces, bringing the total number of licensed spaces to 85.

The facility is set to be fully accessible, professional development for staff working with children with extra support needs, and it's expected to open in summer 2021.

"The YMCA of Northern BC is thrilled that the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund will directly support children and families being able to access high-quality early learning and care in downtown Prince George," said CEO Amanda Alexander.

"The centre will support children to have the best opportunity for early learning through the YMCA national curriculum, Playing to Learn, in a stimulating, accessible and home-like environment."

Valemount is receiving funding to create 72 new spaces three-fold; 24 preschool spaces, 24 school-aged spaces and 24 group multi-age spaces at the Robson Valley Community Services Society (RVCS) Children's Centre.

The centre is expected to open in spring 2022.

The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund has provided funding for an average of 700 new licensed spaces each month.

More than 16,800 new spaces have been funded in B.C. to date, helping parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities.