City Announces Child Care and Affordable Housing Pilot Project
August 10, 2023
The City of Fernie is pleased to announce $19 million in provincial and federal funding has been secured for a Provincial Pilot Project to create 100 new child care spaces and approximately 27 units of housing, prioritized for early childhood educators (ECEs).
Early this year, Fernie was identified as a potential community for a pilot project to rapidly develop new child care spaces and affordable housing targeting the child care sector. Pilot community and site identification included NUQO Modular, BC Housing and the Ministry of Education and Child Care, New Spaces Fund.
“Innovative approaches to create more affordable spaces for families and children and support ECEs in their careers, like the one announced in Fernie today, are key to the success of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system” added Jenna Sudds, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “Together with our provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, our government is focused on making an inclusive, flexible, and affordable early learning and child care system a reality for families across Canada.”
“This project is an excellent example of how we’re working with communities to identify child care needs and conveniently co-locate child care into new affordable housing developments to enable parents to more easily pursue work, school and other opportunities,” said Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care. “The fact that these housing units will be available for Early Childhood Educators is an innovative way of attracting people for in-demand ECE positions in Fernie.”
“We are extremely grateful for the leadership and funding for this project from the Federal and Provincial Governments, and BC Housing.” said Mayor Nic Milligan. “Fernie, like many communities, has a significant need for this type of innovative pilot. Combining much-needed housing and child care space is a wonderful opportunity for our community. We are proud as a Council to be supporting this project by dedicating lands and advancing it as a priority with staff.”
Following the assessment process, Fernie was selected for the Pilot Project, to be developed on City-owned land adjacent to the Fernie Aquatic Centre.
$10 million in funding is being provided through the Canada-British Columbia Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and British Columbia New Spaces Fund, with a further $9 million in funding through BC Housing.
This project employs specially designed modular structures from NUQO Modular, an Indigenous owned, female lead designer and builder of steel-modular buildings who have helped initiate this innovative pilot project with the Province, City, and local partners.
New Commons Development, a non-profit real estate development company will lead the construction. New Commons most recently worked with the Elk Valley Family Society on the Timbers Landing project in Sparwood.
Local partners supporting the delivery of the project include the Elk Valley Child Care Society, a society established by experienced child care educator Léonie Galarneau, who championed the initiative with the Ministry of Education and Child Care, and the Elk Valley Family Society, an experienced local housing operator.
"This pilot project combines two things desperately needed in B.C. communities: affordable housing and childcare," said NUQO President Rory Richards. "NUQO are passionate supporters of quality, affordable child care and having the opportunity to advance this type of pilot project is a huge win for B.C. families. Our NUQO team have worked hard to develop proprietary designs for childcare that focus on support for both the child and their caregivers."
Elk Valley Child Care Society President Léonie Galarneau said, “As a former child care educator with 10 years of experience and a new parent left with no child care options, this project was a major priority. I was pleased to see the City of Fernie and the Ministry of Education and Child Care supporting my proposal and I’m excited to be part of a solution that will make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Katey Taylor, Executive Director with the Elk Valley Family Society said, “We are so excited to be working on this project. Fernie has a significant need for housing and childcare, and we are thrilled to be part of a creative solution that will have such a positive impact on the community."
The City lands will be provided by long-term lease to the Elk Valley Family Society, and include an undeveloped gravel parking lot, and a small section of the Dirt Jumps. Planning for a comprehensive redevelopment of the Dirt Jumps is also getting underway in partnership with the Fernie Trail Alliance who manage the area, with funding provided through the project site works budget managed by New Commons Development.
- The total project budget including site remediation is approximately $19 million dollars with $10 million in funding provided through the Canada-British Columbia Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and British Columbia New Spaces Fund, and a further $9 million in funding through BC Housing.
- This project will deliver capacity for 100 new child care spaces and 27 new rental housing units.
- A minimum of 50% of the rental housing units will be non-market affordable units, at or below 80% of the median market rent.
- Construction is planned for the spring of 2024 with an anticipated opening date in the fall of 2024.
- The Elk Valley Family Society will provide overall management and operations for the facility, and directly manage the housing component.
- The Elk Valley Child Care society will deliver the child care services from the facility.
- Housing units in the facility will be prioritized for early childhood educators across the community.