Rachel Hess of Discovery Playhouse Children’s Society of Pitt Meadows with Ethan, Marcus and Madeleine. The daycare has just two years left in its lease with the city. (THE NEWS files)

Pitt Meadows seeks grant for child care planning

Discovery Playhouse hopes to partner with city

Pitt Meadows city hall is hunting for up to $1 million in provincial funding to create child care spaces.

The operators of Discovery Playhouse Children’s Centre hope this will save their facility. The non-profit society that runs the daycare has been told its lease at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre on Harris Road will expire in two years, in September 2020.

The first step in the city’s process is developing a plan, and city hall announced this week it is seeking $25,000 in provincial grant funding to create a community child care plan, that will allow Pitt Meadows to plan for future child care spaces in the city.

“A community child care plan is the first step to ensuring that Pitt Meadows families have access to licensed child care spaces for children from birth to five,” said the release.

Rachel Hess, executive director of the Discovery Playhouse Children’s Society, is hopeful her group can get involved.

With the plan, the city will have opportunities to apply for funding for child care facilities.

The provincial government has committed to creating 22,000 new child care spaces in B.C. and is investing $221 million over the next three years toward reaching this target.

Local governments have the ability to access up to $1 million in funding to construct child care facilities in municipal buildings and partner with non-profits for operation of such facilities.

“The city will explore these future funding opportunities including up to $1 million dollars for a new facility at the conclusion of the community child care plan,” said the release.

The funding opportunities are timely, as the city is currently working through an Official Community Plan review, and will be able to incorporate community growth and future needs in terms of child care as part of the plan.

Hess said at this point city hall is only working toward a report, and any new building or renovated space is “a long way down the road.”

However, given that the province requires cities to work with non-profits, and that the soon-to-be-displaced Discovery Playhouse is the only non-profit in the city, it would appear there is potential for a partnership.

“It’s a wonderful initiative from the province – it’s the province asking municipalities to help,” she said. “I am excited to work with the city on this moving forward.”

The non-profit charges families with children aged 3-5 years $610 per month for daycare, which she said is “significantly less” than what privately owned daycares charge.

She predicted the city is going to find there is a “huge demand” for infant/toddler care, for children aged two and younger.

“I would love to expand to offer that,” said Hess.

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