Smithers Child Care Plan
The Town of Smithers recognizes that access to quality child care is an essential service and critical piece of social infrastructure. It benefits families, local economy, contributes to a healthy community and overall resident quality of life. The Smithers Child Care Plan, completed in 2021, is a guiding document for the Town of Smithers to use to fulfill its role in addressing child care gaps and support new space creation.
How We’re Taking Action
The Town is working to implement the 13 actions in the Child Care Plan that are organized around three strategic areas:
The Town recognizes that addressing child care needs is complex, and many of the challenges identified in Smithers are experienced province wide. As such, participation and collaboration of local community partners is an essential part of the Child Care Plan Implementation Project. Achievements to-date include:
- ZONING BYLAW REGULATIONS. The updated Town of Smithers Zoning Bylaw contains simplified child care regulations to streamline approvals. Child care is now permitted in all land use zones as per Zoning Bylaw section 1.5.7.
- OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN POLICIES. The updated Official Community Plan includes new policies that recognize the need for child care and supports new child care spaces in a broader range of land use designations, including co-location.
- 2023 CHILD CARE INVENTORY & SPACE NEEDS. Updates local statistics confirmed that challenges continue to center around the lack of spaces and staff shortages. There is a current gap of 220+ spaces needed in Smithers to meet the Province of BC’s child care coverage rate target of 59%. There are only 11 infant/toddler spaces available for every 100 children under 36 months of age.
- FUNDING & INCENTIVES RESEARCH. Identified the increase in space creation capital funding and ways local governments can support child care. It was identified that existing programs for space creation currently exclude private operators and there is a need for provincial coordination of child care and housing capital funding programs.
- LAND OPPORTUNITIES. Town staff focus group identified opportunity sites for child care on Town land. A new facility at Ranger Park and co-locating child care with a new library facility were top locations identified.
- PARTNERSHIP CONNECTIONS. From community partner engagement (check-ins and group strategy session), partnership discussions between landowners and potential operators have begun, including the Town of Smithers, YMCA & the School District.
- LOCAL INCENTIVE PACKAGE & NEXT STEPS. Developed draft Town Child Care Incentive Policy, Town guide for starting a child care business, and next step recommendations, for review by Town staff and the community.
Are you a child care provider, non-profit or local organization interested in helping us with strategic implementation of the Smithers Child Care Plan? If so, we want to hear from you! The Draft Child Care Plan Implementation Project Report is currently available for community review. There are three ways to share your feedback:
- Complete the community survey (open until 4:30 pm, on Monday, January 8, 2024)
- Attend a community drop-in on Saturday, January 6, 2024, from 10 am – 3 pm @ the Old Church (3704 First Ave). Come by and chat with Town Staff & the project consultant to share your thoughts & ideas. Family friendly, we’ll bring the snacks & activities for the kids!
- Attend a virtual gathering, scheduled for Monday, January 8, 2024, from 7 pm – 8pm, via Zoom. RSVP to email@example.com to confirm your attendance.
To learn more, contact the Town of Smithers at 250-847-1600.
Other Ways to Get Involved
Are you a child care provider, non-profit or local organization interested in helping us with strategic implementation of the Smithers Child Care Plan? If so, we want to hear from you! Please contact the Town office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (250) 847-1600.
Space Creation Capital Funding Resources:
With an abundance of provincial grant funding available, now is a great time to get involved.
- Child Care Start Up Grants
- ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund (Primary Stream)
- ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund (School Age Care on School Grounds Stream)
- ChildCareBC Maintenance Fund
- ChildCareBC Plan
- Northern Development Initiative Trust - Northern Healthy Communities Fund
- WorkBC - Community Workforce Response Grant (training opportunities)
For more information on the ChildcareBC New Spaces Fund or other provincial funding opportunities, please contact: Michelle Kirby, Manager of Partnerships & Engagement, Ministry of Education & Child Care at Michelle.Kirby@gov.bc.ca.
For updated child care information in Smithers, contact the Smithers & Area Child Care Resources & Referral Program at 250-847-8824