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Burnaby council rejects $11.4M child-care facility for city, RCMP staff

High costs are halting plans for a child-care centre for 74 kids in Burnaby's Deer Lake neighbourhood.

Burnaby city council has rejected a plan for an $11.4-million child-care facility for city and RCMP staff at Deer Lake citing cost concerns.

Council asked staff to further cut costs to the project.

The child-care facility at 4248 Rowan Ave. and 6250 Deer Lake Ave., directly across the street from Burnaby City Hall and RCMP headquarters, would include two buildings with space for 74 children, according to a staff report.

The report said the city needs to provide child-care services to its employees "to help remove child-care barriers to employment."

The facility would be home to two infant-toddler and two preschool programs.

The city originally budgeted $5 million to build the project, but the plan recommended by staff asked for an extra $6.6 million to be taken out of the Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Arena facility and the Willingdon Brentwood Community Centre projects, which are both currently delayed.

Staff also recommended two "optional opportunity items:"

  • "solar photovoltaic panels" on the roof to get the building net-zero ready ($447,800)
  • additional playgrounds ($466,000)

The budget includes hazardous materials abatement and demolition of the two houses currently on the site, design costs, insurance, construction, as well as all furniture, fixtures and equipment.

But councillors weren't happy with the cost.

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal noted the $11-million facility "seems to be a pretty high cost."

Coun. Pietro Calendino said he had seen luxury homes built for less per square foot.

He approved of the location and said he had no issue with accommodating city and RCMP employees.

But council unanimously referred the report back to staff "to find a more economical way of building it."

It's the second time councillors rejected the proposal.

In June, staff recommended a plan for the Rowan Avenue facility which would have cost upwards of $22 million.

City hall expected to move

Some residents have noted Burnaby City Hall is expected to move to Metrotown in the next decade, moving staff away from its Deer Lake campus.

The city told the NOW earlier this year it expects to open the child-care spaces to the community when city hall moves.

"While the Rowan Avenue child-care will provide priority placement for city and Burnaby RCMP employees initially, we expect that a number of the spaces will be available for the community," city spokesperson Chris Bryan said in an emailed statement in May.

"And when city hall moves, it's likely all the Rowan Avenue spaces would be made available to the community."