The City of Port Alberni is partnering with the Community Arts Council on a child care centre that will be located next to the Rollin Art Centre. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The City of Port Alberni is partnering with the Community Arts Council on a child care centre that will be located next to the Rollin Art Centre. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Port Alberni receives provincial funding for child-care spaces

City of Port Alberni partnering with the Community Arts Council for a new child care centre

Families in Port Alberni will soon have access to more than 170 new licensed child-care spaces thanks to some new provincial funding.

The province announced on Wednesday, May 19 that four projects in Port Alberni will be receiving funding to create new child-care spaces.

The City of Port Alberni is partnering with the Community Arts Council for a new child care centre that will be located on a city-owned piece of property on Eighth Avenue, between the Rollin Art Centre and Eighth Avenue Learning Centre. The province is funding 66 of these child-care spaces, while an additional 22 spaces will be funded by the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The facility will feature Reggio Emilia’s arts and education inspired child-care programming, an approach that emphasizes a child-centred program that uses self-directed, experiential learning with education principles focused on arts, community, outdoor exploration and multi-modal learning opportunities. The child-care centre will also include a community kitchen, multi-purpose spaces that can be rented by the community and a children’s art gallery at the Rollin Art Centre.

The city is anticipating a late 2022 opening.

The province is also funding three other projects in Port Alberni:

– Huu-ay-aht First Nations and BC Housing are partnering on the creation of Oomiiqsu, an Aboriginal Mothers’ Centre that will provide on-site supported housing for 12 families and 24-hour wraparound supports for mothers and children. This will also include the Oomiiqsu Child Care Centre, with 24 new child care spaces for children residing in Oomiiqsu. The centre is expected to be open on Kendall Avenue behind ADSS in September 2023.

– Renovations to AW Neill Elementary school will create 81 new child care spaces. The Mighty Learners Child Care Centre at AW Neill is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

– Renovations at The Family Hub at EJ Dunn Elementary School will convert a tennis court at the current preschool site into an accessible outdoor play space and water play area, which will add five new preschool child care spaces. Renovations are expected to be completed by August 2021.

In 2019, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District undertook a Child Care Needs Assessment, highlighting a shortfall in available child-care spaces in the Alberni Valley.

READ MORE: Child care sector feels the squeeze in Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

READ MORE: Port Alberni ‘Stroller Brigade’ marches for child care

“High quality, accessible and affordable child-care spaces have been very hard to come by for families, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the need for them,” said Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne in a press release.

“One hundred and seventy-six new spaces in a community like Port Alberni will go a long way ensuring that kids build a strong learning foundation and families are able to pursue their education and employment goals.”

Mayor Sharie Minions also offered thanks to the province for the “significant” investment in the children of Port Alberni.

“We are so thrilled to not only see our request for $2.9 million in funding approved but other projects in our Valley funded as well,” said Minions. “We want to extend our most appreciative thanks to all the child care workers and advocates in our community. Access to affordable and quality child care is such an important foundational piece of building a complete community, and this work could not be done without each of you.”

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