Construction crews quickly worked to enclose the new Kiddie Sunshine Daycare centre in time for the recent snowfall, and they'll soon be switching gears and focusing on interior work for the winter.
Sod was officially turned on the project in July and Board Chair, Laura Wiebe, says they are on track to open next September, adding 98 childcare spaces in Altona, for a total of 138.
"We're excited," said Wiebe. "We are still appreciating the community support as we work to shifting gears to planning the inside, our playground, furnishings and other things that we get to now pick out. Again, this would not be possible without the support of our local community, the Town (of Altona), the R.M. of Rhineland, as well as our local businesses that have all come together to help us make sure that we could get this off the ground."
With this progress in mind, the Board is shifting its attention to planning out the outdoor playground area and has brought in a landscape designer. The focus as also shifted to the daycare's opening.
"So., once the building construction is completed, we have to get more certifications from the Province to make sure that everything follows inspections and then they'll grant our licensing, and then we can start to welcome families into the center," explained Wiebe. "And as we do that, we'll be trying to open up rooms in a phased approach so that we can make sure that it's manageable to onboard everybody."
As part of this work, the daycare's director, Patti Klassen, is working on recruitment and training plans to ensure staff is in place. With the new facility more-than-doubling the daycare's current size, Wiebe said the Board will be looking to add to its staffing contingent.
"We know that access to staff that have their Early Childhood Education training is a limiting factor in this area, so we have a number of our current staff that are doing workplace programming to earn their education while employed at the center," she added.
"So, if anybody is thinking that they're going to be interested in a career in childcare, they should keep their eyes open for postings from Kiddie Sunshine Center because we are going to need good people to help us make the center a reality."
Originally, the plan was to implement a four-phase renovation to the Centre Ave. location and bring it more up to date, but that was scrapped at the end of 2021 in favour of an entirely new building because that facility didn't provide sufficient space for future growth, and required extensive upgrades to meet fire, electrical and plumbing codes, as well as to ensure accessibility of service. However, demand for childcare in the area is so strong that the Board is considering keeping the Centre Ave. location open once the new facility is up and running.
We're going to evaluate at that time based on the wait list and the needs of the community," said Wiebe. "But we're exploring the option of making sure that we're maximizing the number of spaces in the community. At this point, we own that building, those licensed spaces exist, so we don't have any immediate plans to close our Center Ave. location.
Historically, our wait list has been fairly extensive, particularly for the infant spaces of under two years of age. And with the changes of $10 a day funded daycare, we've seen that demand go up because now childcare is more affordable for Manitoba families, so the need and the demand is going along with those funding announcements," added Wiebe.
Check out a timeline of the construction below. Photos courtesy Kiddie Sunshine Centre Inc.
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, PembinaValleyOnline encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the PembinaValleyOnline app.