Daycare still hiring staff before scheduled opening in late September

Community members want to know the expected cost for the municipal daycare and whether there are enough staff for all age demographics.
A resort village nestled between mountains with a cloud covered sky in the background.
Sun Peaks residents have been waiting for a municipal daycare since spring last year, and an update on the project is expected by Sept. 12. Photo by Kyle James

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is working to finalize hiring, cost of enrollment, building and licensing for the daycare before it’s slated to open in late September. Local families are eager to know how the hiring process is going and what the cost will be as August comes to an end.

Intake for the centre began in May, but securinga spot depends on hiring enough staff for each age categorys. The daycare is licensed for up to 50 children, and the municipality’s goal is to hire ten employees, including infant-toddler educators, early childhood educators (ECE) and assistants. However, some parents haven’t been able to enroll their children because employees for their age group have yet to be hired. Sun Peaks has been waiting for the daycare since spring of last year, when the municipality received a grant of $1.8 million from the province.

Leigh Kolodka works at a licenced business in Sun Peaks and has lived here for years, which means she met two of the requirements for priority intake at the daycare, and her family applied when intake was announced. 

However, because her child is under three, she is still on the waitlist.

“We received the email saying that they hadn’t found any ECEs for children under three,” Kolodka told SPIN. “We’ve got one little boy who’s just over two. It was disappointing to hear that because we were kind of back to square one, and we had thought that we would definitely get in.”

Kolodka fears enticing people to work in Sun Peaks is a challenge because of affordable housing shortages, with the population more than doubling since 2016, combined with the low pay rates for childcare professionals. 

Childcare workers hired for SPMRM would make anywhere between $18 to $24 per hour, depending on their qualifications, but the job posting notes they gain access to municipal benefits such aspension, health and wellness packages, and the municipality applied for an ECE wage enhancement program. 

Kolodka still wants to know how much her family would pay if she could get her son into the daycare, which echoes what other parents told SPIN right before the intake process first started. The municipality has yet to set a price and previously told SPIN it will be dependent on staffing and securing various provincial subsidies.

Other options for childcare in Sun Peaks include Sun Peaks Resort LLP’s staff daycare, which can be difficult to access, a private home daycare or nannies. Kolodka will keep using a nanny over the coming months, but her family spends between $80 to $90 each day so she and her husband can work. Not having a spot is a curveball financially, she said.

“​​We are expecting our second baby in about two months, and our savings are not really where we wanted them to be because we had expected him to be in daycare.”

The family’s access to a nanny can be inconsistent, which creates another element of strain on top of the financial burden.

“It makes it a lot harder and we want to just enjoy ourselves,” she said. “We want to be able to just drop him off, come back home, not have to figure out week by week what we’re doing for childcare.”

SPIN has reached out to SPMRM to ask for an update on the daycare. Deanna Campbell, chief administrative officer, wrote in an email that the municipality hopes to update the community in the coming weeks.

“We are in the process of hiring and applying for subsidies which will have an impact on the final rates. Modulars have begun to arrive and we are working with the province on licensing. We [are] eager to open and are working on finalizing the operating details,” she wrote.

SPIN asked in a follow-up email when the next update will be, which specific subsidies the municipality is applying for, which age groups the municipality has secured employees for, how many families are still on the waitlist by age group, whether there are housing considerations for employees and cost estimates depending on staffing and subsidies.

Campbell wrote the majority of these questions will be answered at the next regular council meeting on Sept. 12.

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