THE NEWS – files Child and Family Development Minister Katrina Chen, MP Dan Ruimy and Mayor Mike Morden announce funding in 2019 for daycare space in Albion Community Centre in Maple Ridge.

Maple Ridge working on child care plan

Asking the public at open house what’s needed

The City of Maple Ridge is hosting an open house next week to get some ideas from parents and daycare operator for creating a child care action plan.

The meeting takes place Thursday, March 12, at the lobby in the newly renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Maple Ridge received a $25,000 grant last year to pay for creating the plan. The city in December and January has also surveyed parents and daycare operators and held focus groups.

The data collected will identify gaps in child care services in Maple Ridge and try to find solutions. An inventory of existing child care spaces and service levels also will be included with the plan going to city council some time this spring.

Read more: Maple Ridge cautious about daycare land leasing

Last December, council delayed responding to a proposal from the Family Education and Support Centre to use city land at four locations, and tap into what could be millions of provincial dollars, to create up to 460 new daycare spaces. That was referred to staff for more information.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef said Thursday that instead, the centre should use privately owned locations, adding the city should not subsidize some businesses at the expense of others.

“For us, as a municipality, it would be intrusive, to say the least, for us to stick our nose into private enterprise’s business,” he said.

Read more: Private daycare operators in Maple Ridge opt out of government plan

The Family Education and Support Centre last summer received another $702,000 from Employment and Social Development Canada to provide start-up funding for new daycare centres.

However, if that money is unused by this March, it will have to be returned.

Some daycare operators in Maple Ridge in 2018, said they would opt out of the government’s fed subsidy program because it would restrict their right to raise fees later.

But according to the Ministry of Children and Family Development as of December 2019, 86 of 94 eligible daycares in Maple Ridge are participating in the program.

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