Burnaby city council-school board daycare plan inches forward

A plan announced at the height of the 2014 municipal election to triple child-care spaces in Burnaby is unlikely to produce a single seat before the next election, according to city staff – but the project is inching forward.

The plan – an agreement between the city and the school district signed in October 2014 – was to see the creation of up to 12 new child-care facilities and 500 new child-care spaces, starting in 2015.

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The school district was to supply the land and the city was to pay for the placement of modular buildings to house the daycares.

Trustees and councillors – all Burnaby Citizens Association candidates in the 2014 election – met at both city hall and the school board office for public announcements.

Two years and nine months later, the project is still in the planning phase.

This week, city council approved a plan to spend $300,000 on assessments at six school sites and the detailed design of the first facility.

The city approved $80,000 for a feasibility study of three sites more than two years ago, but that work was only a “first scan,” according to city planning and building director Lou Pelletier, and a couple of those sites may be looked at again.

“Even if they were looked at previously, they weren’t looked at at the level of detail that we will do now that we have some funding approval to define the servicing, look at the costs and find out what each site will need to move forward,” he told the NOW. “It’s really a new look at six sites.”

After the assessment work and the design of the first facility, Pelletier said the first daycare should be built by the end of 2018.

The next municipal election takes place Oct. 20, 2018.

“Council’s direction is to try and move this as quickly as we can,” Pelletier said.

Asked about how long it has taken to start construction on the first child-care facility, he said all land development projects are more complicated than they seem and that care was needed because the centres will be permanent installations that will stand for decades.

“Everyone wants to know that we’re doing the right thing in the right location for the right reasons,” he said.

Once the first facility is designed, however, Pelletier said the remaining 11 should take less time.

“The first design is likely to be replicated for other sites,” he said. “The design work will be used over and over again on other projects with some modifications to foundations, the number of stairs, etc., depending on the slope of the site.”

Pelletier said he couldn’t predict when all 12 centres would be complete.

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