Kits Neighbourhood House addresses Daycare issue in Open Letter

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The following is a community letter from Kitsilano Neighbourhood House Executive Director Catherine Leach that was published on their website earlier today.

Dear Community Members,

Some misinformation has been shared publically about the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House redevelopment project which we hope to correct through this letter.

Three and half years ago the Kits House Community Board took on the immense task of engaging in a redevelopment project to address a facility that was in disrepair and required major renovation. The reality was and still is that the current facility can no longer function in its current state as there are numerous hazardous infrastructure issues arising.

Much thought and consideration went into the creation of the Redevelopment Project.  Many difficult decisions were made and each was made with careful consideration.  Community input has been sought at every stage of design, and experts in the area of architecture, design, project management, development, childcare, seniors housing, property management and sustainability have volunteered their time to assist the board in its decisions.

During initial discussions on how to address the current disrepair of the facility and embark on a redevelopment project, the Kits House Community Board considered many issues including community demographics and need, current programs, environmental, social and economic sustainability, heritage status of the buildings and funding opportunities. The vision that resulted from these discussions and ongoing input from the Community was one that allowed for:

  • A resource to the Westside community that supports, engages and responds to community needs.
  • Fifteen (15) units of affordable seniors housing with priority for seniors living on the Westside and vulnerable seniors living in substandard housing
  • Twenty-five (25) daycare spaces for children aged three to five
  • An additional 15 Out of School Care spaces
  • New meeting and socializing spaces to meet the program needs of all ages from toddlers to seniors
  • Removing safety concerns about the current substandard facility
  • Access to community urban agriculture (i.e., rooftop garden)
  • Heritage status will be maintained for both the Hall and the Yellow House
  • A LEED gold standard building that also reduces long term operating costs
  • A redeveloped facility that all community members can access and appreciate with a renewed sense of pride

The feedback from the first presentation of this redevelopment project to the Community was positive and provided clear direction to incorporate a 25 space daycare centre for children 3 to 5 years of age in the new building. Originally the Kits House Board did not include a Daycare Centre because as a Neighbourhood House we try to provide a balance of programs to the community.  Currently we provide over 100 spaces of childcare and as such, we did not intend to offer a daycare centre in the new development.  Additionally, we hoped that the daycare society to which we currently rent space, Kitsilano Daycare Society, would relocate and continue to provide daycare services to the community from another location, allowing for an additional 25 daycare spaces on the Westside of Vancouver.  However, in recognition of the direction provided to us from the community, a 25 space daycare centre was incorporated into the new drawings and will be available to Community families once the redevelopment is complete.

Clarification on the Seniors Housing and the Daycare

We would like to clarify that the affordable seniors housing has not been incorporated instead of the daycare. In fact, the two components are independent of each other and have been separate from the beginning.  As we approach the stage of finalizing the drawings, both seniors housing and the daycare have been incorporated into the redevelopment, as they are pressing needs on the Westside of Vancouver.

Clarification on notice to Kitsilano Daycare Society

Kits Neighborhood House gave notice to the Kitsilano Daycare Society (‘KDS”) over 3 years ago and has worked with them and other members of the community to find an alternate location in which to operate.  Kits House believed that three years would be sufficient time for KDS to find space and/or for parents to find alternate care during the construction of Kits House.  Recognizing that support may be required, Kits House  wrote a letter of support for KDS and provided information on currently available childcare options and strategies for keeping the children connected.  In addition, all current KDS parents and waitlisted parents have priority in the new daycare and can call Kits House to get on the waitlist for the new facility.  Kits House continues to do everything it can to support the Kitsilano Daycare Society.  The reality is that, unfortunately, due to the current disrepair of Kits House, the existing daycare is simply not sustainable in its current location.

Over the past three and half years, we have worked to respond to feedback from 3 open houses and  3 Community Cafes, while at the same time working to meet the City of Vancouver and the Provincial requirements for design and function. Through this project, we have strived to ensure that once completed, the Westside of Vancouver will have a sustainable 25 space Daycare Centre for children 3 – 5 years of age.

As we near the final stage of this project and head towards the public hearing held before City Council, we are confident that we have listened to and taken into consideration the input from the Community, staff, local organizations, city and provincial bodies.

We hope this letter provides some clarity.  We encourage you to visit our website www.kitshouse.org for more information and to remain updated on the project.

We will always welcome community input as it is integral to the services Kits House provides. As such, you are welcome and encouraged to speak with Catherine Leach, the Executive Director of Kits House, catherine@kitshouse.org or 604 736-3588 and/or the Chair of the Community Board Andrew Lyons, alyons42@telus.net, 778 839-5542 at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Catherine Leach, Executive Director
And
Kitsilano Neighbourhood House Community Board

Last modified: July 7, 2010

6 Responses to " Kits Neighbourhood House addresses Daycare issue in Open Letter "

  1. E Hart says:

    The website states that the daycare will be relocated during construction. I take this to mean construction will not begin before the Daycare is relocated. However, it seems the Daycare is out on it’s ear. However long the notice was, the fact remains that parents don’t need to be put on a waiting list for two to four years down the road. Their kids need care now, not in a few years. I do wonder how strongly Kits House tried to “help”. What did they do to help? Did they write this letter three years ago? Did they contact reasources years ago, in the interest of maintaining a longstanding relationship to the daycare and the community?At the last Open House, the plans were laid bare for all to peruse. There are still faults with the daycare layout, and I do not believe these plans will be passed. And where are the funds? Have the city and Prov. already written the cheques? Last I heard, they weren’t doing many of the planned developments for this year. I also find it very interesting that in the Courier dated July 2, Ms. Leach stated that the seniors moving into the home are “inadvertantly left with the burden of guilt.” ummm, no. The Seniors never claimed that they would relocate the daycare. You did. “Relocate to wherever, we gave you enough time, now get lost” is not adequite. Give them a few more months, as your website states you are behind in your timeline and scheduling anyway.

  2. KDS Cares for Kids says:

    A few points of truth regarding KNH open letter: There was no effort made by KNH executive director to help with relocation of the daycare. On the contrary, the daycare has been referred to “tenants” by KNH management and not perceived as a collaborative partner even though the daycare has been an integral part of this community in providing quality childcare services alongside KNH since 1970’s.

    It was only with pressure from the daycare families and the Kits community that forced KNH to redesign their proposed development to include the childcare spaces. There were no childcare spaces in the initial proposal when presented to the community at the Public Hearings. It is quite obvious that KNH does not know the demographics of the community it claims to serve!

    With a waitlist of two years and critical under capacity in the Kitsilano community for GDC spaces for 3-5yr olds and no sites to relocate the daycare on the Westsde, preservation of the daycare program should have been a priority with the City and Province to ensure continued operations before even considering funding any redevelopment of KNH. The families need this service now and closure of the daycare which KDS successfully has managed and operated for over 30 years is a disservice to the community. These spaces will be lost for an extended period despite what KNH claims there is no assurance that the capacity will be reinstated. The goal should be to preserve the capacity now and continue to build capacity for the families in need of this service.

    Are we to see another massive hole like West 8th and Vine once the daycare children are evicted and demolition begins? What if those families who were evicted from the W. 8th and Vine location had the chance to stay in their homes and community instead of neighbours living with a gaping hole! KNH claims to build community partnerships between neighbours and concerned with the community as a whole, it has proved otherwise with the current executive director. If anything she is the one that needs to be evicted!

  3. Denise Hanson says:

    We are confident that the Kitsilano Day Care Society (KDS) will find a suitable site to relocate due to the enormous amount of time and effort over the past three years that the daycare families have put into preserving quality childcare in our community and view as a priority over an alternate agenda. It will take more than 25 spaces to fill the need for these services and the loss of these existing spaces will impact other programs that are already dealing with extensive wait lists as well as add an economic hardship on families that will have to pay extraordinary costs for other childcare options or enroll their children into facilities that are not suited to readiness for Kindergarten as a group daycare setting provides for 3-5yr olds. If the daycare had vacated and closed three years ago when served with eviction by KNH, those spaces would have been lost indefinitely while the wait list continues to grow daily without any new building in sight.

    KDS’s vision and goal is to protect and support valuable childcare capacity in the community now and in the future. We will welcome the time when KNH will be able to have their program up and running to help meet the demand for group daycare and out-of-school care as well as a variety of other services. In the meantime, we do acknowledge the letter of support and assistance from a few of the Board members in our search for a new home so that we can continue the great work that KDS has accomplished in caring for kids for over 30 years in the Kitsilano community.

  4. Greg says:

    I live close to Kitsilano Neighbourhood House and while Ms.Leach seems eager to clear up a variety of misunderstandings, she does not appear concerned about the parking issue. The other day I noticed that someone had painted over the comments written by someone probably from the area regarding parking. The writing was on the back of the redevlopment sign that is placed in front of the KNH Hall.

    In her letter to the community Ms.Leach listed all the programs that KNH will offer. A wonderful assortment of activities will take place when the project is completed. However, where will the staff who work at KHN park? There will be 25 proposed Day Care spaces and 15 out of school spaces where will the drop off for these programs take place?

    In the plans for the KNH development there are only 6 street level parking spaces and two will be assigned for the group day care and one for the Handy Dart. This will leave three parking spaces for staff, 15 housing units, and all the other programs that will take place on a daily basis. While some people will walk to the programs at KNH. I have observed many parents that drive and park on the street for several hours when bringing their children to the Day Care and toddler programs. KNH also has two small vans that are parked at the back of the building at present, and these may use two of the three remaining parking spaces.

    KHN and the City of Vancouver need to consider the needs of the community and the issues the project will create around congestion on 7th Avenue and Vine street now and not after construction has started. I encourage all residents to write to City Hall with their concerns as soon as possible.

  5. BD says:

    I have been a local resident all my life and so has the 4 generations before me. I am very much up to speed with the position of each, KNH, KDS, City of Vancouver, Daycare Liciensing and the Prov. of BC.I am greatly saddened to here, that regardless of the fact that the daycare has been given notice, that KNH is tossing KDS out on its ear. I have read the letter from KNH offering clarification of misinformation. Judging by that response, KNH has taken some heat over this issue. I further see that KNH has included their “vision” and there “strive to ensure” that these 25 spaces will be included. I have reviewed the city requirements for daycare space and can tell you that this will not be possible. At very least, the proposed playground area will not sustain that number of kids. I have talked to many locals and they seem to support KDS and I hope this reaches many of them, because the misinformation has and is coming directly from KNH. I think it is time we all band together with KDS to have the KNH director tossed out on her ear. What kind of a community based director does she think she is.

    I understand that the daycare will close August 31, with no relocation of the 25 spaces. The only reason they are being tossed is because of some soil samples being done on the property. Furthermore the funding from the BC Gov. has been stalled. Meaning that KNH will not even be able to proceed with the development for some time. The Director knows this and still presses to toss the daycare out.

    I plan to spend a few of my own dollars on a legal opinion, to see if the misinformation and lack of support to KDS, is enough to get her tossed.

  6. DC Parent says:

    Let’s have some clarifications from the other side as well:
    1. KNH gave notice to KDS Aug.’08, my calculations say that is only 2 years ago not over 3.
    2. KNH offered to assist KDS but only pursued one site, that being the Jericho Garrison and when that didn’t show any promise, they did not come up with any other sites that the parents were aware of.
    3. KNH originally stated that they had no interest in a daycare on their redeveloped site and only added it in when the Day care parents were extremely outraged at being asked to leave without being able to return after construction.
    4. The building that the Daycare is currently housed in is not the one that needs the major repairs and is hazardous, the yellow house where the offices are is in serious need of repair and has numerous hazardous infrastructure issues.
    4. KNH wrote the letter of support only at the end of June 2010, only 2 weeks ago, when the KDS board asked for it.
    5. KNH’s promise to give the current Daycare children priority in their new centre is hollow as the children will be in elementary school by then, which does not help the current parents out at all!
    6. KNH website stated that all the programs will be relocatin prior to contstruction. It didn’t say all except the daycare which is left to find a new location without any community support.
    7. The provincial and municipal governments are assisting in the building of the new daycare at KNH but are providing no assitance to secure the relocation of Kitsilano Day care which has operated WITHOUT past major government funding for almost 40 years. Not very many daycare can make that claim, as most of them sit on municipal land and in municipally built buildings and pay $10.00 per year in rent.
    Every side see their point of view as the correct one, but the children’s voices are not heard and the daycare parents and staff must continue to speak for the children of the Kitsilano community and not allow the injustice of the closure of this valuable centre to happen.