The Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre and the Start Smart Childcare Centre were flooded out in September a brief storm. (THE NEWS/files)

Child development centre still homeless

Maple Ridge flash flood in September ruins building in minutes

The Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre will not be going home.

The flash flood that hit downtown Maple Ridge late in the afternoon on Sept. 14 destroyed their premises on 22610 Dewdney Trunk Rd., causing the society to move five times as it awaited repairs.

But two weeks ago, the board that runs the non-profit Child Development Centre Society decided to find a new place, rather than wait for repairs.

“I know it’s going to cost a lot of money to get into a new building,” society executive-director Shawn Matthewson said Monday.

“We need a space that’s all together and that’s what we’re looking at right now, when you’re a non-profit, and you only have a certain budget, and then we’re going to have to renovate.”

The centre lost furniture, therapy equipment, and furnishings when the freak storm dumped rain and hail on to downtown Maple Ridge. As ice blocked street drains, water pooled in the parking lot and rushed into the development society building, forcing evacuation.

Following the flood, the centre relocated to five locations in order to keep offering its services. For example, the Haney Professional Building on 224th Street was used for administration and speech therapy. The Freemasons service club also helped out by offering their lodge on 116th Avenue for free, while Katzie First Nation is sharing its new Early Years Centre.

Matthewson said that, while therapists are making more home visits, a centralized location that can provide equipment, such as swings and stairs to help kids develop mobility, is needed.

The Child Development Centre needs about 5,000 sq. ft. in which to operate its physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy and family support services.

She wants to find a place as soon as possible, noting it has to remain within either Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, with access to bus lines and lots of parking so parents can drop off their kids. The centre serves up to 1,000 children with a variety of programs.

Fundraising will start in the new year to help pay for renovation and moving costs, once a new location has been found.

“From our perspective, it’s cost a lot. We have all the equipment we have to replace. It cost everyone quite a lot of money, that two-hour storm,” Matthewson said.

The total cost hasn’t been tallied. The Start Smart Childcare Centre, which shared the same building, also had to relocate, but will return to its original location once renos are complete and health and safety inspections are done.

Meanwhile, a large part of the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre, also remains closed, three months after the flood, forcing the relocation of many seniors’ programs.

Ridge Meadows Seniors Society president Don Mitchell negotiations with the insurance company are continuing.

“We still know nothing about where we’re going,” Mitchell said.

It will take about $200,000 to pay for repairs on the ground floor of parts of the building, such as replacing wallboard and flooring. Repairs though haven’t yet begun. “It shouldn’t take long once it gets started,” he added.

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The Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre and the Start Smart Childcare Centre were flooded out in September a brief storm. (THE NEWS/files)

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