new daycare 

By Loreth Beswetherick If all goes smoothly, the new daycare facility planned for Spring Creek could be up and running by September 2001, one year before the new elementary school is slated to open, and it should go a long way toward easing the daycare crunch. Intrawest is donating the serviced site to the municipality plus $300,000 toward building costs. The Dandelion Daycare Society, which raised the funds to build the current Whistler Children’s Centre, is now looking to raise the balance. Children’s Centre director, Marian Hardy, said the new facility will probably cost around $1 million but the society doesn’t have firm estimates yet. She is currently applying for grants from various foundations and levels of government. Hardy said she would like to keep fund-raising in the community at a minimum so as not to conflict with groups like the Whistler Public Library and the Maurice Young Millennium Place. "We realize there are lot of other people out there fund-raising." She said the library and the daycare society have reached an agreement where the groups will keep each other informed about their plans. "That way we won’t duplicate each other. We can’t bombard the community with everything," said Hardy. "We do hope to try and get most of the money from provincial grants and larger foundations." The society is also hopeful the municipality may provide additional financial support. The society is currently in the process of forming a development committee and will be putting out a call for an architect and contractors. "We are working closely with the municipality right now as far as making sure the land is going to be cleared this year and what the next steps are." The new facility will be the same size as the Whistler Children’s Centre with room to expand in the future. The Whistler Children’s Centre is currently licensed for 74 children but no further development is possible on the site off Lorimer Road. Hardy said the society, at one point, thought about adding a second floor to the Children’s Centre. "But, we found it wouldn’t work because of the way we are built on pilings and because of the parking issue." She said the society will be planning ahead this time round and making sure they have a design that can be added on to without major problems. She said the new facility may be designed to be constructed in phases, so that a second floor could be added. "We may end up having a second floor that we do not utilize immediately." Hardy said the new facility will help ease the shortage of licensed daycare space in Whistler. "I know there are a lot of frustrated parents out there and if I had a magic wand we would have had a new daycare a year or two ago, but the world doesn’t work that way and we are doing our best." The new facility will be in addition to some new pre-school programs in the works for Millennium Place, which is slated for construction this spring. Hardy is also hoping to establish several new, smaller licensed family daycares under the Whistler Children’s Centre umbrella. "Hopefully that will take the pressure off in the short term." She said the plan is to try and get hold of some employee housing units. "We will have an employee living in them who will also be running a family daycare." She noted a group daycare situation is not ideal for every child and she would like to be able to offer parents a choice. Hardy said the community and the municipality have been tremendously supportive in the past. "The (Whistler Children’s Centre) was built by the community for the community and we want to do the same as much as possible. We are very lucky with the levels of support in Whistler… In a lot of other communities this would just be a pipe dream."

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