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Community groups come together to discuss fate of Strathcona daycare centre

Last Updated Jun 29, 2018 at 12:03 am PST

The Phil Bouvier Daycare Centre (Courtesy Googlemaps)

The Phil Bouvier daycare centre is set to close at the end of July

One mom has launched a petition to save the 49-space centre

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A mom whose Vancouver daycare is about to be shut down came away from a meeting Thursday night knowing there is strong support for the facility to stay open.

But it remains to be seen whether the daycare will stay open beyond the end of July.

The meeting was organized by ALIVE – Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement – and Our Place, representing various organizations such as the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre and the Strathcona Community Centre.

Earlier this month, the operators of the Phil Bouvier Family Centre in the Strathcona neighbourhood announced the centre would have to close by the end of July.

The Vancouver Native Health Society said in a letter to parents that it could no longer operate at a sustainable financial level. The daycare has space for 49 children.

“There’s a lot of will. So I’d like to think if there’s a will, there’s a way,” says Angela Giannoulis who attended the meeting. Her two-year-old son attends the daycare.

She believes a solution will come from the City of Vancouver and the Central City Foundation, which owns the daycare’s building on Princess Avenue.

An online petition Giannoulis has launched has gathered 1,100 signatures.

“We are calling for a new provider to be brought in – a provider that can run the daycare.”

She notes the centre has recently been cited for infractions by Vancouver Coastal Health, for issues such as staffing levels and fire drill procedures.

A few months ago, the centre reduced its hours.

Despite those problems, Giannoulis still had a lot of respect for the place.

“The staff are amazing. The teachers are wonderful and committed.”

In May, employees voted to join the BCGEU and Giannoulis understands that’s why workers have not yet been given their termination papers. She says, in that case, employees would still be on hand beyond the end of July. But she says families have not been told whether the centre will stay open.

“And that’s part of the problem where there’s no communication, no transparency, no accountability. The families that rely on that daycare centre are being left in the dark.”

She points out the centre was opened with financial help from the City of Vancouver, which wanted a guarantee that the building be operated as a daycare for a minimum of 15 years, up to 2022.

She also says it’s ironic the daycare’s future is now in peril, but in February, it was chosen as a backdrop for a government announcement on childcare funding.

Meanwhile, the search for a new daycare for her son is in full swing.

“It’s so hard to find daycare spaces in this city – especially infant and toddler spots. This daycare has 24 of those spots.”

In 2011, the daycare won a BC Childcare Award of Excellence. The centre specializes in caring for special needs and Aboriginal children.