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Delta makes 'momentous' move to add more childcare spaces

Childcare facilities to be permitted in all zones
The city is hoping to add over 1,000 new childcare spaces. Design-Miss_C/Pixabay

Delta council this week granted final approval for further amendments to streamline the city’s zoning bylaw including making it easier to establish childcare spaces.

The changes are aimed at expanding permitted home occupation operations and allow childcare facilities more broadly across the city. They will be a permitted use in all zones, while in residential and agricultural zones spaces would be limited to a home occupation use. In 2020, council approved a new Delta Childcare Strategy and Action Plan.

The strategy includes 24 recommendations, which are grouped into three strategic directions including increasing accessibility, increased affordability as well as a focus on quality.

The plan includes working towards a goal of adding 1,051 new childcare spaces over 10 years to reach the Canadian average ratio, as well as having a partnership with the Delta School District to explore options for co-locating childcare programs in elementary schools.

The city received a grant through the Community Child Care Planning Program to undertake a childcare needs assessment, which found 80 per cent of survey respondents reported that there is an inadequate supply of childcare services.

Upon voting in favour of granting preliminary approval at council's Oct. 23 meeting, Coun. Dylan Kruger said the city is “nowhere close” to being on track to meeting its goal and that part of the problem is an onerous rezoning process.

“So, taking this very substantial step in allowing daycare in all zones in Delta across our city, I think, is the most momentous thing we’ve been able to do to date in terms of making it possible to achieve additional space, and take that hurdle away from folks. So, I’m very supportive of this move. I’ve had so many conversations with operators and would-be operators who are looking to set up a daycare operation in Delta and were overwhelmed by the rezoning process. I think this is a very progressive move and should gone a long way in achieving our goals,” he said.

A motion put forward by Delta at this September’s Union of BC Municipalities convention requests that the provincial government provide local governments with funding for human resources to coordinate the implementation of municipal childcare action plans and projects developed through New Spaces Funding to support the expansion of childcare.