It has been a “challenging” three weeks for parents with children enrolled in the Osoyoos Child Care Centre — a challenge the centre hopes to put to rest very soon.
Child care staff, returning from the holiday break January 3, discovered a leak at the 89-Street facility, a condition that will have it closed for between three and six months.
“We came back and we discovered a puddle on the floor,” said Karen Grieg, the centre’s manager. “And then we discovered a bigger puddle downstairs.”
The full extent of the problem, however, wasn’t revealed until a restoration company contracted to clean up the puddles and find the source got into the ceilings.
“When they opened them up, the rain just poured,” said Ms. Greig. “The insulation was wet. The walls were wet. And the flooring was wet.”
The discovery brought an immediate closure to the facility and sent parents scurrying to provide alternate care for their children.
“The parents are being resourceful and community members have stepped up to help parents and they’re managing,” said Ms Greig. “They’re not happy, but they’re managing.”
While parents were busy finding a new day home for children, centre staff got busy looking for an alternate location to set up shop.
Numerous locations in the community were checked and dismissed.
“People were fantastic within the community, just really willing to help, but the licensing mandates made it difficult,” explained Ms. Greig. “There wasn’t a facility that could accommodate those mandates.”
Chief among them was a requirement of three bathrooms for the 22 registered children — and a separate bathroom for the infant/toddler group.
Finally, the Town’s Community Services department — which had earlier proposed space at the Sonora Centre — suggested the Sun Bowl Arena, specifically the mezzanine and board room area.
At first blush, that might seem an odd fit. But necessity does inspire inventiveness.
“I know firsthand the importance of the day care,” explained Gerald Davis, the department’s director. “With two children when we first moved here we used that every day.
“And not having a day care . . . oh boy.”
An initial review of the space determined the Sun Bowl space met licensing mandates and child care use during the day would be a modest issue for other users in the facility.
“Most of the use is evenings and weekends,” explained Mr. Davis. “We do use the mezzanine for minor hockey and figure skating; the Coyotes, they’ll use it for warming up.”
“The Child Care Centre) will have their equipment out during the day and we’ve asked if they would just pack it neatly away in the mezzanine at the end of the day.”
The centre quickly accepted a Town offer to informally lease the space at “non-profit rates” and made plans to begin using the space this week.
All that’s slowing a reopening of services is a site inspection by Interior Health. Ms. Greig said she hopes to see that accomplished today or tomorrow.
“Cross my fingers,” she says of the inspection. “By the end of the week we should be open; tomorrow would be better.”
The centre still plans to use the outdoor facilities located at its permanent site, meaning there will be a regular “little train that comes down the hill and snakes all the way to the playground.”
“There’s a space at the Sun Bowl Arena that we can use as a play space, but it’s not this space,” said Ms. Greig of the new playground facilities the centre has built at its permanent site.
She talks of the silver lining that has come with the leaky roof.
The child care association had talked of accessing grants and fundraising to upgrade flooring that was more than 20 years old.
“Now they’re going to be redone — just not quite the way we had planned — and the roof is going to get fixed,” she smiles. “New walls, new floors, new roof, a new playground.
“Hopefully, when it all comes together, it’s going to be a brand new child care centre.”
An added bonus, perhaps. Most parents, Ms. Greig said, will just be happy to have their children back at the centre.
“It’s been a challenge, but the community has been fantastic,” she said. “There have been a lot of people who have provided help.”