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Sechelt doubles childcare spaces in revamped proposal

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Council approves $12,000 to create a new ‘shovel ready’ grant application
Jordison, Connie
Publication Date: 
17 Oct 2021


Sechelt wants to create a new district-owned childcare centre with space for 75 children. The location being considered for the facility is near the corner of Shoal and Lighthouse avenues.

To pay for the project, the municipality will be revising plans attached to last year’s unsuccessful grant application to the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund and reapplying for the second intake of that program. Sechelt’s first application to the program was for a facility with 37 childcare spaces.

The amount being sought in its new application will be “close to the grant maximum of $3 million,” acting communications manager Kerianne Poulsen told Coast Reporter. Poulsen wrote in an email that if approved, the grant is expected to cover the full costs for design and construction of a new facility.

At its Oct. 6 meeting, council approved spending up to $12,000 for architectural and quantity surveyor services to update and improve on the previous application. Those funds are to come out of the 2021 general operating fund contingency.

Mayor Darnelda Siegers raised that motion. It was not included on the meeting agenda and came forward without a staff report. Coun. Matt McLean said he was “uncomfortable with making a financial decision on the spot” but was unsuccessful in deferring the motion until the Oct. 20 council meeting. 

Acknowledging McLean’s concerns, the mayor explained that a deferral would not allow enough time to meet the Nov. 16 grant application deadline. Staff, she said, had reached out to grant program officials and successful grant recipients to find out what was needed to strengthen Sechelt’s initial proposal. They were advised that a key consideration for grant approval is submission of a “shovel ready” plan and project budget, which requires an update to the application and cost estimates for the project, according to Siegers.

At the meeting, Poulsen said the budget requested to update the application was based on information received in two quotes from architectural firms and on hourly rates quoted by quantity surveyors for their services. She noted that those service providers have indicated they will need more than three weeks to complete those updates, due to their current workload demands.

In October 2020, council approved up to $9,500 for consultants’ work on the first grant application. When asked by Coast Reporter how the proposal will change from last year’s plan, Poulsen wrote: “The main difference is that we are increasing the number of new child care spaces to meet the province’s financial objective of $40,000 or less per new space created… The way we will do this will be to add some additional square footage for before and after school care, which is space that can be used by different age groups at different times of day. 

“Adding the option for before and after school care may allow the District to increase the total new child care spaces, while still adding capacity for the most urgently needed child care spaces in the newborn to 36 month and 3 to 5 year age categories, as defined by the Sunshine Coast Child Care Action Plan.”

In her email, she said the motion approved authorizes staff to apply for the grant and that council review of the updated submission is not required.