Kyoko Urano, her five-year-old son Pierre, Nicole Ng and Hilary Hope stand in the playground of ABC Kinder Garden in the Oaklands neighbourhood. The parents are concerned they’ll lose their childcare spaces with the long-time daycare owner heading into retirement. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

Parents fear loss of childcare spaces in Victoria neighbourhood

Impending retirement of owner leaves daycare’s future in jeopardy

Kendra Wong

VICTORIA NEWS

When Nicole Ng learned the daycare her daughter has attended for the past few years could be shutting down, she went into panic mode.

The working mom has developed a routine, dropping off now four-year-old Makayla to ABC Kinder Garden daycare on Haultain Street in Oaklands at 9 a.m. and picking her up at 5 p.m. But her routine, along with that of other parents, could change, as ABC’s longtime owner is retiring and has listed the property for sale, with plans to close the daycare on Aug. 11.

“It was a shock for everybody,” said Ng. She’s one of a group of parents hoping a prospective buyer of the 7,500-square-foot property will continue operating the facility, which cares for 24 children aged two-and-a-half to five.

Zora Creery, who has owned ABC Kinder Garden for clodse to 40 years, said there is someone interested in leasing the space. Creery was hopeful they will continue to run it as a daycare in the fall.

But the news has sent parents into a panic, with many making a flurry of phone calls to daycares around the city, searching for openings for the month of August in case the daycare does shut down.

After several phone calls, Ng eventually found a spot at a daycare in Brentwood Bay, close to where she works, but some parents haven’t been so lucky.

Kyoko Urano’s five-year-old son, Pierre, has been attending ABC Kinder Garden since he was two-and-a-half.

While he’ll be entering kindergarten in September, there will be a three-week gap when Urano doesn’t have care for her son.

Urano, a single mother, has looked at daycare services or summer camps to potentially enrol Pierre in, but said many are too expensive and she can’t afford to take time off work.

“I was expecting ABC to take care of my son until right before school starts,” she said.

The lack and affordable childcare spaces is an issue that has plagued the region recently, and Victoria is not immune. Many daycares are at capacity or have dozens of people on the wait list. With the potential loss of another facility, some parents believe the loss will hurt the city’s young families.

“We felt really blindsided by it. A lot of the parents felt really sick to their stomach, because they’ve had previous children come here,” said Hilary Hope, whose five-year-old daughter, Avery, attends the daycare.

“It’s like family. It’s a really special daycare and to lose it is really sad …” she said.

“We know how difficult it is to find daycare and so to lose a daycare like this that can take this many children is really devastating to the community.”

kendra.wong@vicnews.com