Columbia Valley Pioneer staff

The burdening waitlist for childcare in Invermere is destined to get smaller thanks to the groundbreaking of a new childcare facility at Eileen Madson Primary School.

On May 10, members of School District No. 6, District of Invermere, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and Windermere Valley Child Care Society broke ground on the $8.6 million project funded by the federal/provincial government and $300,000 from CBT.

The 148-space facility will accommodate children ages 0 to 10, including 24 infant/toddler spaces, 100 pre-school, and 24 after-school spaces. The project is slated for completion in the fall of 2024.

“We are aware of the extensive waitlists for child care in the Invermere and surrounding areas,” said school district superintendent Karen Shipka.”This facility will help to address some of those concerns for families.”

Shipka noted the board of education supported the hiring of a director of early learning and childcare last year, saying Crystal MacLeod has been working tirelessly to build strong partnerships with third-party providers such as Windermere Valley Child Care Society.  

Board chair Amber Byklum thanked the above partners who made it all happen.

Lana Osborne-Paradis, board chair of the Windermere Valley Child Care Society, said they have been supporting families in the Columbia Valley since 1975 and are thrilled to continue this work. She noted the project will allow them to “continue delivering important childcare programs for the hardworking parents of the Columbia Valley.”

Osborne-Paradis said Windermere Valley manager Pat Miller and assistant manager Tiffany Traverse have been instrumental in this collaboration. 

Columbia Basin Trust president and CEO Johnny Strilaeff said they recognize the significant impact that accessible childcare has on the growth of families and careers in Invermere. “This much-needed facility will be a valuable addition to an already thriving community.”

Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care, said they are creating childcare spaces where they are needed the most, pointing to approximately 300 new spaces in Invermere and Kimberley. “We know childcare is life-changing for families, which is why we are partnering with the Rocky Mountain school district and others (to build affordable and accessible child care).”

Federal counterpart, Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, stated that these inclusive facilities “give children across Canada the best possible start in life.”