Delta council this week approved a rezoning application to convert a commercial space on North Delta’s Scott Road into a new daycare.
The application by Highmark Homes will see the conversion of a ground floor unit at 9015-120 St. into a daycare that can accommodate up to 50 children, ranging from infant and toddlers through primary ages.
The mixed-use building consists of commercial and townhouse units on the ground floor and condo units above.
The outdoor play area will be in a part of the parking lot that will be converted, something that raised some concern among councillors.
Following their discussion on commercial spaces being converted into daycares, council agreed to ask Fraser Health, which licenses daycares, for a workshop to get a better idea on what makes good facilities.
Coun. Dylan Kruger said he’s hoping the message can be made to other existing commercial property owners that their spaces can be transformed to childcare uses to help meet the demand.
Council last summer 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.
Among those recommendations is working towards a goal of adding 1,051 new childcare spaces over 10 years to reach the Canadian average ratio, convening a City of Delta Child Care Steering Committee and partnership with the Delta school district to explore the option of co-locating childcare programs in elementary schools.
Delta 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 in Delta.
In particular, there is a need for before and after school care, infant and toddler care, flexible hours for parents and space for operators to build new facilities, a report to council notes, adding the findings were consistent with many other communities across B.C. where childcare has been described as being in a “crisis state.”
The consultant’s findings concluded, “As a result of the limited childcare options, families are having to make difficult choices when it comes to childcare. Grandparents and extended family are being heavily relied upon for support, and if this support is not available, parents are choosing undesirable childcare options or choosing not to work because childcare is too expensive. From an operator's perspective, offering good wages is a challenge and recruitment and retention of employees is very difficult. There is not enough money to maintain staff and the work is not valued, which is creating a human resources shortage. Furthermore, licensing and regulations are constantly shifting and operators are struggling to keep up with the demands.”
Coun. Lois Jackson at this week’s council meeting wondered why there isn’t more focus on working directly with the school district about the possibility of adding more daycares facilities at schools.