Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Rainbow daycare eyes fall start—with 300-plus on the waitlist

Rainbow Plaza sold to Burnaby-based developer; Whistler Cooks buys Cranked
Rainbow daycare
Operators of a new daycare slated to open in Rainbow this fall say its waitlist already has more than 300 names on it.

Operators of a new daycare planned for Whistler’s Rainbow neighbourhood are hoping to open by September (pending a building permit from the Resort Municipality of Whistler), but the 28 spots planned for the site won’t solve Whistler’s childcare problem overnight.

Still months away from opening, the facility already has more than 300 kids on the waitlist, said Melissa Baxandall, co-owner of operator Creekside Kids.

“It’s ridiculous … I’ve done this a long time and all my other centres have waitlists and everything else, but the centre is not even open, and there’s over 300 kids on the waitlist,” Baxandall said, noting that while childcare demand is similar on Vancouver Island, waitlists in the Lower Mainland are typically in the 60 to 65 people range. 

“Waitlists are huge in the Interior as well, but Whistler definitely takes the top [spot],” she said. 

“There is a huge need. There is no childcare in Whistler.”

The provincial government recently awarded the facility a grant to help fund 23 of those spaces—just one of 11 projects that also include Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Squamish. 

“There are still additional costs to building out the project, but it’s incredible to have the extra funding because we’re already looking at another site in Whistler that we wouldn’t have looked at [without] this funding,” Baxandall said. 

While a permit application is working its way through municipal hall, that process was delayed by the municipality’s recent ransomware attack, she added.

“Hopefully they figure that out, and our building permit will be issued,” she said, adding that if the permit is in place by June 1, the Rainbow daycare will be on track for a September opening.

Creekside Kids currently operates out of a temporary space in Creekside, though the operator is in the process of securing a permanent facility in that neighbourhood as well. 

There’s also talk of further expansion in Whistler, “you just have to be smart about it,” Baxandall said.

“Everything will be done with staffing being at the forefront of it.” 

Whistler council adopted a rezoning bylaw for the Rainbow daycare on May 18.

“I’m so grateful to staff for moving through this process with the applicant, and for the support of the community to bring this very, very needed service to our northern community in Rainbow,” said Councillor Jen Ford.

“It will spread childcare around the valley and it’s very exciting to see, so thank you to everyone involved.”

Meanwhile, Rainbow Plaza, where the daycare will be located, came under new ownership in March.

Burnaby-based Elevate Development Corp. purchased the development—which includes the retail spaces, the rental units above them, and the Chevron station across the street—from Calgary’s Ronmor Developers Inc.

“We love Whistler, [and] certainly believe that it will come very strong out of COVID,” said Elevate president Gordon McPherson.

“[Rainbow Plaza] is just such a trophy property … it’s well located, most of your residential units have views of the lake, and the quality of construction, I mean, Ronmor spared no expense.

“As a developer we’ve got a lot of respect for what they did there, and we’re very excited about the acquisition.”

Part of that excitement stems from Rainbow’s core of year-round Whistler locals, McPherson said.

“The feedback has been positive,” he said. “They’re very vocal about the amenities they want to have, and we believe we’ve got a very strong group of operators in the commercial units there.” 

One of those operators—Cranked Espresso Bar—is also under new ownership, as longtime local catering company Whistler Cooks bought the café from Trevor Hopkins and Carmyn Marcano last month.

But patrons of Cranked shouldn’t expect drastic changes, said Whistler Cooks’ Grant Cousar.

“One of the real attractions of it was the quality of the brand, and the quality of the product that they had already produced,” Cousar said.

“We just really saw it as an opportunity to take on somebody else’s dream and add it to our vision and some of our things that we’re really good at, and take it from there and see what we can make better about it, and really just be a great business for the local folks.” 

Whistler Cooks’ “infrastructure and expertise” will come into play in expanding the menu, Cousar added, but the Cranked foundation was a big selling point in finalizing the deal.

“We’ve just been completely smitten with how great the coffee is, and we were able to adopt the team that was there,” he said.

“We really saw that that was a huge, huge part [of the purchase], and a huge asset of what they had created there.”