Golden learning hub got huge boost

A project that has been in the works in one way or another for the past 10 years has taken a huge leap forward this past week.

A project that has been in the works in one way or another for the past 10 years has taken a huge leap forward this past week, and project champions are hoping it will take an even bigger leap this summer.

The early learning and child care hub,  a new centre that is planned to be built as an extension onto Alexander Park Elementary School, has just received two major grants, which added to the funds they already had, make up $200,000.

Now, with $200,000 in the bank, they are using those funds to try to leverage another $500,000 from the province to complete the first phase of the project.

The first grant came from the Economic Opportunities Fund, whose funds are to be used for jointly agreed upon projects by the Town of Golden and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

These projects have to be “economic drivers” which could encompass a large variety of initiatives. The Early Learning and Care Stakeholder Action Group requested $80,000, which was approved by both the Town and the CSRD last week.

They were also granted $80,000 from the Columbia Valley Credit Union.

*In the print version of the Golden Star, a typo indicated the credit union grant was $800,000, when it is in fact $80,000. We apologize for the error.

“This is very much in need in our community,” said Joanne McCullough, ELCSAG co-ordinator. “We know this is an economic driver. If you can’t find childcare, you can’t work. This will reduce leakage from our community.”

The 280 square metre add-on to APES will include a licensed group child care room with 25 spaces, and a licensed pre-school program with 80 spaces.

A second phase, which is estimated to cost $300,000, will include a licensed infant-toddler child care room with 12 spaces.

The request went through quite quickly because the deadline to apply for the provincial grant through the BC Early Years Office, Child Care Capital Fund is on June 30. And before applying, ELCSAG had to have letters of intent from funders.

Project champions had been working very hard on the early learning hub for years now, and had these grants not come through, McCullough says they may have had to look at the possibility of “pulling the plug.”