New operator could lease Dufferin day care says Orangeville mayor

December 20, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By James Matthews

Parents affected by a planned child day care closure may get a reprieve from the upheaval of the dearth created when the Jean Hamlyn Day Care Centre closes.

Dufferin County’s community services committee decided during a special meeting Dec. 11 to close the day care centre that hasn’t been able to recover its costs since at least 2004. The facility’s financial strains are exacerbated by costly capital repairs even as the provincial government scales back funding commitments.

The Jean Hamlyn facility on McCarthy Street will close in June 2020 when the school year ends.

At least, it will close as a county-run day care on that date. County Councillor Sandy Brown, who is Orangeville’s mayor, told Dufferin council the town has agreed to make the McCarthy Street building available for a five-year lease to a licensed private day care operator.

Mayor Brown said the town will issue a request for proposals from interested service providers in the spring as a means to give parents ample time to consider their options before the June closure.

Anna McGregor, the county’s director of community services, has said some private operators have expressed interest in taking over the Jean Hamlyn Day Care Centre. Among those are Orangeville operators The Sunflower School and the Third Street Child Care Centre. The YMCA of Greater Toronto has also reached out to the county.

The Dufferin child care system has 46 infant spaces, 229 toddler spaces, 402 pre-school spaces, 592 Kindergarten spaces, and 852 spaces for other school-age children. That’s 2,121 licensed spaces provided by non-profit, municipal, commercial, and home-based child cares.

Ms. McGregor said the Jean Hamlyn site has 65 spaces. That’s about three per cent of what’s offered in the county.

Ms. McGregor informed the committee during a previous meeting that the Jean Hamlyn facility’s closure will allow more than $200,000 in municipal property tax levy plus as much as $111,000 in provincial child care subsidy to be redistributed to other providers annually starting in 2021.

“This would help sustain the Dufferin child care system and mitigate an anticipated increase in the municipal share of child care costs of around $352,000 between 2020 and 2021,” she outlined in a report to the committee.

The price tag for repairs to the Jean Hamlyn building has been pegged at about $300,000. Mono Mayor Laura Ryan, the committee’s chairperson, said the county has budgeted to cover the needed infrastructure work before a private operator moves into the facility.

Renovations will be done during the summer after the facility is shutter as a day care in June.

Orangeville resident Aubrey Woodward said six months may not be enough time for families to find a new day care for their children.

She asked if the closure could be delayed a year. That would also make for less of a strain on resources as many children that currently fill day care spots will have “aged out” in another year.

“June is too short of notice,” said Ms. Woodward.

Ashley Jaspers-Fayer of Orangeville said her kids were on a wait list for nine months. She echoed concerns there may not be sufficient time for families to secure day care services.

“Wait lists in Orangeville are crazy,” she said.

Orangeville resident Doug Caldwell has children currently on a waiting list for day care spaces. He broached the question of whether current wait lists will be honoured a new operator that takes over the McCarthy Street facility.


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