By Jonas Gagnon
A dearth of daycare in the community has caused a lengthening of wait lists for parents in the community, but a new daycare project for Fort St. James is starting to see traction as it moves from the planning stages to raising capital funding.
“Right now we’re looking for as many capital funding opportunities as we can,” said Suzanne Larimer, the project co-ordinator for the new daycare
Though the community already has a daycare facility, it is working at capacity. The wait list for the youngest kids is up to two years at the Nak’azdli Daycare Centre according to Larimer.
The idea for the project has been percolating for years in the minds of Larimer and her team of volunteers.
“In 2008 parents at David Hoy (elementary) wanted to have after school care, but then I also discovered that, even for myself trying to find regular childcare was challenging, and more and more parents were coming to (my work) and telling their stories of how they struggle to find childcare,” said Larimer.
The intervening years haven’t been endless navel gazing for Larimer. It is an arduous process that has to be gone through to look after other people’s children.
“It’s a long process. The venue, we have to have engineers look at it. we have to go through childcare legislation and regulations. It’s a long process making sure everything is where it should be,” said Larimer.
That process may have finished at the perfect time for a new daycare, as the community is set to grow as the Mt. Milligan mine comes online and begins it’s hiring. This growth will put more stress on an already burdened system.
“We need childcare now, with the families and the employment that we have now in out community. So with the impact of having more people the need (for childcare) will grow,” said Larimer.
With that recent completion of a business plan, and putting odds and ends in order, the group can move from waiting for the pieces to come together, to searching for the capital funding it needs to breathe real life into the project according to Larimer.
One of the collaborators that is essential to making the project both feasible and sustainable is the Nechako Valley Community Services Society (NVCSS). NVCSS, a diverse non-profit organization, has committed to running the daycare once the the centre is ready to go.
“NVCSS has agreed to run the childcare centre which is good because it supports sustainability. It’s good for the staff to have a strong employer in the community; it allows us to access benefits packages and good wages,” said Larimer.
The community has also been an important factor in the planning process, a fact that Larimer is very thankful for.
The new daycare centre is tentatively planned to move into the old courthouse by David Hoy Elementary. The old courthouse is, however, an expensive proposition for the budding daycare as the building needs to be completely renovated.