Rec centres move to help parents potentially left in lurch by strike

Commonwealth Recreation Centre's manager has been reconnecting with neighbouring schools to keep the lines of communication wide open

With a possible full-scale teacher walkout set for Monday, childcare providers in Greater Victoria are strategizing.

B.C.Teachers’ Federation members voted Wednesday to escalate job action. As they did, community groups started planning for what could be a massive influx of kids in need of somewhere to go for up to three days next week, starting Monday.

“We’re being really proactive,” said Suzanne Cole, executive director of the Burnside Gorge Community Centre.

Cole is in the midst of planning day camps for 11- to 15-year-olds and increased childcare programs for younger students.

The Centre provides out of school care for students from Tillicum elementary and Quadra elementary schools, as well as programming onsite. Despite efforts to juggle staff and maximize the use of their space, the centre simply does not have enough room to accommodate all of the students from their out of school programs on site throughout the day. Cole suggests parents register for child care now.

“If parents have a sense that they have a safe place for their children to be, then I think it makes it easier, as opposed to a no-notice, ‘yikes it happened,’” she said.

In anticipation of a walk out, Commonwealth Recreation Centre manager Tom Bryce has been reconnecting with neighbouring schools to keep the lines of communication wide open, so the recreation centre is among the first to know if and when a walkout happens.

“Once I know that, then we’ll develop our plans a little further to provide programs for those specific dates,” Bryce said.

Programs may include additional family swim time and extended programming at the teen centre.

The two day’s notice doesn’t present planning or staffing issues, Bryce confirmed, adding that recreation centres would likely go into “spring break modes.”

With communication between out of school care programs regionally, Cole is optimistic families won’t be left in the lurch.

“There are a lot of community organizations out there trying to plan so that there’s something available for kids. … Don’t leave it to the last minute because we do have the luxury of planning.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com