City of Vernon staff are looking into possible sites for a childcare facility on public land.
The province is currently urging B.C. communities to apply for up to one million dollars in funding if they construct or refit a public space for a childcare program that would likely be run by a non-profit society.
“We would like to build childcare (spaces) and we will fund it 100 percent, up to $1 million,” Michelle Kirby of the Ministry of Children and Family Development told city council on Monday.
She said the province is looking for a 15-year commitment from municipalities to provide the daycare spaces.
“We need the spaces,” Kirby told council. “We’ve relied on the market to respond to the needs of families and I’m sure you’re all aware it is unable to respond to those needs and meet the demand of childcare that’s requires across B.C.”
She said there was only 18 percent coverage of childcare spaces on average to population of children, which varied widely from community to community.
Kirby called it a “patchwork of childcare.”
The government’s Childcare BC Plan aims for universal child care, similar to our healthcare system.
The province has allocated $1 billion over three years for childcare while the federal government is contributing $153 million over three years.
“We are asking you to participate,” Kirby said.
Councillor Scott Anderson said he’s concerned the money could be pulled if a new government was formed after the next election.
But Kirby countered, asking if he thought parents would be happy to return funding for childcare.
City staff have been asked to report back in January on the ramifications of the proposal and to consider possible venues.
Kirby said the city could also seek UBCM funding, including $25-thousand, to assess a possible childcare plan.
Mayor Victor Cumming said the city could possibly discuss joining forces with Coldstream which would double the funds available for an assessor.