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Search for child-care spaces may end in Edmonton buildings

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Gap in child care spaces in the southeast is obvious, Coun. Mike Nickel says
Publication Date: 
4 Apr 2018


Libraries, old schools, recreation centres and even old bus garages may soon be used to create more child-care spaces.

Edmonton city council's executive committee agreed Thursday to take inventory of city-owned buildings and determine which vacant spaces could house new child-care centres.  

Coun. Bev Esslinger said the city aims to help fill the gap in child-care spaces but must determine which buildings are appropriate and which may need renovations. 

"We need to make sure that the physical guidelines are met in the buildings before we offer it," she said. "We don't want a building that's falling down, that doesn't have green space."

Mayor Don Iveson said the city has a role to play in making space available.

"One, there's an opportunity for our own employees and there may be opportunities to meet the huge unmet need in the community for early learning and care services that are affordable and high quality."

Crisis level

Coun. Mike Nickel said the gap in child-care spaces in his southeast ward is obvious.

"The word crisis is well understood by local politicians, because we've heard it over and over and over from our constituents."

Nickel said collecting data on city buildings is necessary so the city can determine appropriate spaces for child-care centres.

"And ask the provincial government, whose role it's supposed to be to provide spaces or available funding."

Iveson said the city is working to involve community groups, including school boards and other non-profit organizations.

"We're not as a community taking a systematic approach to that," he said. Iveson said he recently spoke with school board chairs about evaluating the full inventory of buildings in the city to come up with a strategic plan for child-care spaces. 

Regulating child-care services is under provincial jurisdiction but the city injects about $5.5 million into early learning and child-care programs and services.

The city is expected to return with a list of buildings in early 2019.

In 2017, the city leased 108 buildings to non-profit organizations and only four of those were with day-care providers.

-reprinted from CBC News