Province investing $500,000 into HOPE Centre

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, December 12 2017

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

The HOPE Centre on Gabriola is receiving $500,000 to create 32 new spaces –16 infant and toddler spaces, eight spaces for children aged three to five years, and eight preschool spaces.

Alice Verstraete, representing the Verstraete Evangelistic Association which runs the HOPE Centre, said to create those spaces, the HOPE Centre will be constructing a 4,000 square foot building between the HOPE Centre (the blue building) and the HOPE House.

This is the third time Verstraete has applied for money to construct a purpose-built childcare and pre-school building on the HOPE Centre property.

“I think this is fantastic. Now the real work begins.”

Currently the HOPE Centre is only able to fit 16 spaces into the HOPE House - and those are split between preschool and childcare.

“So I only have 16 spaces a day - this will enable us to have a preschool and a childcare at the same time.”

The HOPE House is 1,700 square feet. The HOPE Centre (blue building) is around 4,000 square feet.

Preliminary plans for the new building have it housing four large rooms, as well as a kitchen, office, bathrooms and storage areas.

The blue building is being used as a family resource centre, housing the teen programs, youth programs, after-school care, and other programs run by the HOPE organization.

Verstraete said the plan is to keep the HOPE House as well.

Once the new building is open, the house will then be available for use for other family and youth-oriented programs and organizations.

Verstraete said the zoning for the property allows for up to a 15,000 square foot footprint. Islands Trust staff were involved with the application for the provincial monies.

A preliminary site plan shows roughly where the new building is proposed - between the HOPE Centre (Blue Building) and the HOPE House with North Road running along the bottom of the photo. (Submitted)

Doug Routley, New Democrat MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said, “Families from across the province have been telling us that under the previous BC Liberal government, it became more and more difficult to find affordable, quality childcare.

“Our government is committed to implementing universal, affordable childcare in BC, and I’m happy to announce these 50 new spaces as a first step towards keeping that promise.” 

For Nanaimo-North Cowichan, the investment includes the HOPE Centre investment as well as $500,000 to the Penelakut Tribe for the Smun’eem Head Start Daycare in Chemainus for a total of 50 new childcare spaces in the riding.

Gloria Hatfield, President of the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce, said, “Young families are an integral part of any thriving economy. The introduction of these new daycare spaces, not to mention the construction and other employment generated by this expansion, will be an important improvement in accommodating the needs of these families, which in turn will allow them to increase their involvement in our business community.”

In all, 91 organizations (103 projects) are sharing $33 million in childcare major capital funding to create 3,806 new licensed childcare spaces throughout the province. 

The Gabriola and Penelakut recipients received the maximum amount given through the program.