The following is a community letter from Kitsilano Neighbourhood House Executive Director Catherine Leach that was published on their website earlier today.
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 (â€˜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, firstname.lastname@example.org or 604 736-3588 and/or the Chair of the Community Board Andrew Lyons, email@example.com, 778 839-5542 at your convenience.
Catherine Leach, Executive Director
Kitsilano Neighbourhood House Community Board
Last modified: July 7, 2010