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Pemberton council gets briefed on community's childcare challenges

Council briefs: mobile home park development permit; revised place names; loan authorization for new truck
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Short on space The Village of Pemberton is looking at a host of options when it comes to expanding its licensed daycare options. photo by Joel Barde

Village of Pemberton (VOP) council was briefed on the community's acute childcare issues at its Tuesday, June 25 regular council meeting.

Lisa McIntosh of Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) presented a new report, "Pemberton Child Care Needs Assessment and Strategy: 2019-2023," which provides data related to childcare needs and guidance on how to create sv more licensed spaces in the community.

The report found that there are approximately 12.5 licensed daycare spaces for every 100 kids (up to 12 years old) living in Pemberton.

McIntosh explained that that figure is worse than the provincial average and said she is hopeful that the report, which was commissioned by SSCS, will lead to change.

"Collaboration is the only way that anything is going to happen here," she said. "All the partners need to come to the table and figure out how to address this."

McIntosh said the report represented "money well spent" and that a similar report for Squamish helped several private childcare operators secure provincial funding.

She also underlined the need for the province to increase support of private childcare operators, rather than focusing exclusively on non-profit ones.

Going forward, hiring licensed, early-education teachers will continue to be a challenge, though there are some hopeful developments, said McIntosh.

Beginning in the fall, Capilano University will offer early-education teacher training in Squamish, and the province is beginning to come through with wage subsidies for teachers.

"These little things are happening, but it's going to be at least three years before we see any new educators coming out," she said. "Hopefully, by then, they will be coming out to a wage that is sustainable."

Notably, the report called on the VOP to support the creation of 46 new licensed daycare spaces by 2023, increasing the number of licensed daycare spaces from 53 to 119.

Following the meeting, VOP Mayor Mike Richman said council is looking at a number of options. These include supporting an addition to the Pemberton Children's Centre, or building a new daycare on the site of the new French immersion school (the location is not public at this time).

"We're keen to find more spots for it," said Richman. "The challenges are the cost of land and the cost of buildings. So whenever we can partner up—whether its at the existing Pemberton Children's Centre, at the new school or any other new site—I think you'll find us pretty motivated."

Richman added that the VOP will also look at ways it can work with developers to create the spaces by offering density bonuses if they create childcare spaces.

DEVELOPMENT PERMIT

VOP council also gave the greenlight to 13 new mobile-home pads for the Mount Currie View Mobile Home Park at its June 25 meeting.

The pads, which are tentatively scheduled to be cost between $400 and $500 to rent per month, support the VOP's efforts to grow affordable housing options in the Pemberton area.

While supportive of the aim in principle, Councillor Amica Antonelli voted against the development permit out of concern that the mobile home park lacks a common area.

"I really like this (proposal), and I really appreciate that we need as many units as possible. But from a livability perspective, I think there (needs to be) some common area," said Anotonelli.

"There is going to be a lot of kids there, playing by the roads. It's just not that safe."

REVISED PLACE NAMES

VOP Council also supported a provincial initiative that could see a change to the name of two area landmarks.

At the Lil'wat Nation's request, the province is considering changing the spelling of the Lillooet River to the Liwat River, and the spelling of Lillooet Lake to Líwat Lake.

According to the province's letter to the VOP, the features are within the portion of the traditional territory of "several First Nations" and it will ascertain if there are "other known traditional names" for them before acting.

"I'm glad to see this happening," said Coun. Ted Craddock.

The current spelling can lead to confusion, as people might associate the Lillooet Lake and River with Lillooet, rather than Pemberton, he said.

"I think (this) reflects more on Pemberton," said Craddock.

NEW PUBLIC WORKS TRUCK, PLEASE

Council also authorized the purchase of a new public works truck at its council meeting.

Staff asked to borrow up to $30,000 for the vehicle.

The purchase would be financed via the Municipal Financing Association of BC's financing program, through a five-year loan.

The first year's payment, $3,191, could be accommodated in the VOP's current operating budget, according to the staff report.