Dauphin secures new daycare spaces through federal-provincial initiative

Published on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 07:59

Dauphin will receive the lion’s share of 1,670 new child-care spaces in the two phases of the ready-to-move child-care project, a $94-million total investment from the governments of Canada and Manitoba.

A total of 148 child-care spaces - the only ones announced for the Parkland - will be created in a brand new facility in the city as part of Phase 2 of the program.

The new daycare will be constructed on a piece of city-owned land which lies along Whitmore Avenue East between Lorray Manor and the Manitoba Hydro office.

When we submitted an expression of interest with the province we had to commit to two things. We had to commit to offering a piece of land and we had to commit to maintaining the building for 15 years,” Economic Development manager Martijn van Luijn said, adding a daycare operator will also have to be selected.

“I’ve since learned that we’re also responsible for the process, what we call the RFP process where we select the organization that is going to be running the facility.” van Luijn said the City is still waiting for clarification on a few points before it goes looking for a provider.

“Most likely our first invitation to apply would go out in existing daycares. We have four major daycares right now and they could all be very good candidates, but we haven’t talked to them about it,” van Luijn said. “We’re hoping to be able to appoint the organization very early in the process, because they need to be involved in the design. Because as you know, every daycare has their own way of doing things.”

Based on the success of the first phase of the project, the second phase was expanded to increase to an additional 1,004 spaces in 14 facilities for a project total of 1,670 new spaces, and total of 23 new centres as a whole.

The 148 spaces planned for Dauphin are much needed as the city, while preparing its application for the program, estimated the local day care shortage at approximately 240 spaces.

“That’s the number I submitted when they asked us what is your shortage. I don’t think that we were looking for that, but as a result of that we did get the highest allocated spaces from all the selected sites,” he said. “I think that’s going solve a big issue.”

New facilities approved in the second phase of the project will be built as ready-to-move structures by a builder selected by the province and are expected to be operational before the end of this year. van Luijn believes those timelines might be a little tight.

“I don’t know how quickly they’re going to be able to build all these units. We’re not in that much of a hurry. I understand this is a very urgent problem that we would like to solve right away, but we want to do it in the right way,” van Luijn said. “So if that means that we’re later on the list we’re okay with that. We just would rather do this right.”

The ready-to-move child-care project is a partnership between the governments of Canada and Manitoba, municipal governments and First Nation communities to develop new child-care facilities in less than a year in areas with a demonstrated need for child-care spaces.

The child-care spaces being developed with this investment are part of the Manitoba government’s commitment to develop 23,000 new, regulated not-for-profit child-care spaces for children under age seven across the province by 2026.

For more information about the Canada-Manitoba Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child-Care Agreement, early learning and child-care development supports, and child-care services in Manitoba, visit gov.mb.ca/education/childcare/.

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Published in Dauphin Herald News