Parents who use the soon-to-be-closed Teddy Bear Daycare have launched a petition to keep the centre in Millennium Place open.
“We believe closing a publicly funded daycare is wrong,” said Jennifer Abbott, who started the petition, which already has over 300 signatures.
“We have been circulating it. Every single parent at Teddy Bear Daycare has a copy, and the staff has a copy. We are going door to door in neighbourhoods, we are going to all the businesses, we are going to all the business owners.
“So we are doing a lot of old fashioned stomping to get out there and get people to sign it.
“I have found wholeheartedly that most people are genuinely shocked that a daycare is being closed.”
The board of Millennium Place has been wrestling with the future of the Teddy Bear Daycare space for many months.
When the daycare opened in 2001 it was to meet a perceived need in the community for after-hours, weekend and tourist drop-in childcare. But over time the number of parents needing these services has dropped off. It has been closed Sundays for months and it is likely it will close on Saturdays soon.
“ …The landscape has changed and Millennium Place is not necessarily about ownership of programs but about looking around the community and figuring out where the greatest need is and to apply our resources toward that need,” said Dennis Marriott, Millennium Place’s general manager, adding that the daycare is slated to close June 30.
“Yes, there is definitely recognition that children are the most precious resource we have in Whistler, but there is also the recognition that there is not a lot of space in Whistler and arts and culture in particular is suffering.
“What I hope the community realizes eventually is that our intent is very honourable. We are trying to operate our society responsibly, we are trying to figure out what we can do best and do it, we are trying to say we can’t do (daycare) best and there are other people who can, so is there a way that we can partner with them to make this happen.”
The Maurice Young Millennium Place Society, a registered charity, was incorporated to run the facility in 2000.
The Whistler Interfaith Society currently owns the building. However, it’s likely that by June the facility will be owned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, which took over the mortgage in 2005 and agreed to ownership in 2007.
Whether municipal ownership will affect the mandate of the MYMP Society is yet to be determined. However, the MYMP Society is anticipating significant cuts in municipal funding this year.
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