Destination daycare eyes expansion 

Closure of Teddy Bear Daycare offers opportunity

A daycare facility originally set up to cater only to tourists is planning to expand to serve locals.

The decision was made after it was announced recently that Millennium Place would close Teddy Bear Daycare in June.

“In the next couple of weeks we are going to be applying for group childcare so that we can accept kids on a full-time basis,” said Gabrielle Livsey, childcare manager at the new Mark Warner Whistler Daycare.

The centre is operated by Mark Warner Holidays, a UK based childcare specialist, which has more than 30 years experience looking after children in ski resorts across the Alps.

It is located in a new purpose-built facility at the Hilton Hotel.

“(The company) noticed a demand for childcare in town and then Teddy Bear Daycare announced they were closing so we thought we would open it up and help the community,” said Livsey, whose own three-year-old daughter Tori Weatherbie goes to Teddy Bear.

“It is very sad about Teddy Bear. Tori loved it there and I do feel for the parents who have been there for years and need that drop off at seven in the morning. But hopefully we can help relieve some of that.”

Livsey said Mark Warner is looking at what hours it might operate to see if it makes sense to open early and stay late. She hopes to have licensing in place to take full-time placements well before June.

Whistler parents can go right now on a more temporary basis, with toddlers 18 to 36 months costing $60 a day and kids 3 to 5 years old costing $50 a day. Mark Warner provides all the snacks and a complete lunch each day.

The board of Millennium Place did meet with Teddy Bear parents last week, said general manager Dennis Marriott.

Livsey also attended that meeting.

“I think the benefit that I felt from that meeting was the parents understand a little better that the key issue here is that Millennium Place needs to cut its losses, given our current financial situation,” said Marriott.

“An option that we don’t have is to continue operating the daycare.

“I also think they started to realize that there are two separate issues. One is whether or not Millennium Place operates a daycare, and the decision is clearly no. But the second question is whether or not a daycare operates at Millennium Place and that is not necessarily a Millennium Place Society decision.”

The Resort Municipality of Whistler takes over ownership of Millennium Place in June. It would be up to the RMOW to decide if another commercial daycare could operate in that space.

Marriott said there had been some very informal discussions with people interested in that option but the decision rests with the municipality.

No one at the municipality could be reached for comment by deadline.

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