Saanich may team up with additional communities in Greater Victoria to improve daycare for children.
The public heard last month that Saanich and Oak Bay plan to file a joint application to a grant program from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). If approved, each community would receive $25,000 to help identify local gaps in daycare service.
But officials have since heard more than just the two communities may in interested in filling joint applications to the UBCM grant program worth $3 million.
“So I am reaching out to some other municipalities to see if we can get more into the group,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. “If that is the case, we will have more funding available.”
The funding itself would not create more spaces, but rather identify existing gaps.
As for actual new spaces, the provincial government has made $13.7 million available to create approximately 1,370 more spaces, and the City of Victoria has already signalled it would apply for funding.
Haynes said Saanich is not interested in making such an application. “But we would be very much wanting to have conversations with those groups in Saanich that are doing that.” Potential groups would include SD61 and SD63, as well as non-profits such as the Saanich Neighbourhood Place.
Haynes said the issue of affordable daycare appears high on the agenda of many including employers whose employees are struggling with finding daycare.
“We do have a housing crisis, but we also actually have a childcare crisis,” he said. “It is very difficult for families to have children, and there is no daycare,” he said.
To help solve this crisis, Saanich has also been talking to developers, who could create spaces through their amenity contributions, he said, adding that daycare spaces in residential developments also ease transportation pressures, since parents would not have to travel back and forth, if they can drop their off children in the same place where they live.
Ultimately, the provision of daycare is a question of affordability. Anything that helps families with daycare costs leaves more money for other areas of life, he said.