Is a new daycare on the horizon for Baddeck?
Need for local service a longstanding issue; seen as vital in keeping and attracting younger families to area
Reliable, affordable daycare could be on the horizon in Baddeck.
Village resident and lawyer Matt Hart called a Dec. 10 meeting at the Baddeck Community Centre to gauge interest for a local daycare. Hart co-chaired the meeting along with Director of Home Support Services Gwen Jarabek and BOLDCAMPS Board President Madison Greening. Twenty-one parents, expectant parents and those considering parenthood took part in the focus group - among them an RCMP officer, a physician, a lawyer, an accountant, a tourism operator, government workers, and a former home daycare operator. District #2 Councillor Perla Macleod was also present.
Parents took turns keeping active toddlers occupied, while others rocked sleeping infants in car seats.
“We have until June 11 to get a daycare up and running,” mused Hart, referring to the expected arrival date of his first child with wife Diane, an accountant.
The remark drew laughter, though for everyone gathered, the time pressure is real. Lack of dependable, accessible, affordable daycare can be life-altering.
Jason Chard and Tanya Bolgar landed full-time employment in Baddeck with the Department of Natural Resources. Their 3-year-old attends daycare in Whycocomagh, a 30 minute drive away.
Alicia Fraser’s daycare dilemma was all-too-familiar to those in the circle.
Fraser works full-time at Stone’s Pharmasave in Baddeck. Her husband Craig works for a Sydney-based construction company. They have two young children under five years of age. After mortgage and bill payments, groceries, all remaining income went to childcare last summer forcing them to re-evaluate. Craig took a lay-off in October to stay home and look after the kids while Alicia continued to work full-time. Craig will return to work in April 2019. Alicia is grateful to have a full-time, year-round job with benefits. For both of them to continue working though, they will need full-day childcare come April.
To varying degrees, many can rely on extended family for help. When the help runs out, some have to take time off work. For those without nearby family, there are few, if any, support structures in place.
The meeting venue was no accident. Much of the discussion revolved around the viability of housing a potential daycare in the community centre. Beyond physical location, discussions were floated about facility rent, community collaborations, available outdoor space, organizational structure, daycare programming, fees, staffing and staff qualifications. All present believed a daycare would help attract young families to the area.
The lack of daycare options is a longstanding issue for the area. Former municipal councillor Athol Grant called a meeting in January 2013 to determine interest in establishing a daycare in the Baddeck area. After viewing potential facilities, it was felt it would be too onerous to renovate the facilities to daycare standards. Family home daycares appeared to be the more viable option given provincial funding incentives. One such family daycare agency operated briefly in Baddeck.
Matt Hart is scheduled to discuss the daycare initiative at the Dec. 19 municipal council meeting.
The next daycare focus-group meeting will take place in mid-january.
Follow “Focus Group - Baddeck Day Care” on Facebook for meeting date, time and place.