Future of North Okanagan daycare in flux after province axes $500K grant | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Future of North Okanagan daycare in flux after province axes $500K grant

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Bridge Educational Society
September 26, 2019 - 4:00 PM

LUMBY - A Lumby daycare slated to open its doors in the near future has had a major set back with the cancellation of a $500,000 provincial government grant that would have allowed the early years centre to open.

The Bridge Education Society's Early Years Centre heard the news their $493,000 grant application had been cancelled Sept. 19, which now leaves the centre in a state of flux.

Bridge Education Society treasurer Roxanne Brierley said the board was currently assessing the situation and discussing how to move forward.

"Our project has been a long time coming and we were so close to opening this application was meant to bring us to completion," Brierley said.

The Bridge Education Society, who run the Okanagan Waldorf School in Lumby, has been working on opening a daycare at the site for several years and currently have a completed building which is almost ready to open. The not-for-profit has fundraised $1.4-million for the 63-space daycare.

Brierley said the grant money would have been the final step in seeing the doors open and estimated from receiving the cash the daycare could have opened within eight weeks. The treasurer said the application under the provincial government's Rural Dividend Program was the combination of two months of work and the board had been confident their application would be successful.

However, on Sept. 19, the daycare received a letter from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development saying the Rural Dividend Program had been "suspended until further notice."

The letter states the Rural Dividend Program has been suspended as the government is temporarily reallocating the cash to fund $69 million in programming due to the downturn in the forestry industry.

Speaking from outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver, Mayor of Lumby Kevin Acton told iNFOnews.ca the UBCM had passed a unanimous resolution asking the provincial government to reinstate the Rural Dividend Program.

Acton criticized the provincial government for axing the program and for their lack of consultation with local rural governments before cutting it.

Brierley said the daycare would create 10 jobs and allow parents of 63 children to enter the workforce giving economic growth to the region, which was the "whole point" of the Rural Dividend Program.

The Early Years Centre received another set back in August when the Regional District informed them the building needed access to fire hydrants at the cost of $200,000.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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