The building technology used to create modular homes and portable classrooms is now being applied to address Manitoba’s shortage of child-care spaces.
The first of eight “read-to-move” child-care facilities was unveiled Friday just west of Winnipeg. Bright Beginnings Educare will operate the Headingley facility with space for 20 infants and 54 preschool kids.
It will be followed by new centres for Oak Bluff, Whitemouth, Stonewall, East Selkirk, Ile des Chênes, Rosenort and Portage la Prairie by October, Premier Heather Stefanson said at a news conference Friday at the Bright Beginnings centre.
“This is a game-changer in child-care space expansions to meet rising needs,” she said about what the province is calling the ready-to-move model, “an innovative and cost-effective way to create more child-care spaces sooner.”
The $94-million project, paid for by the federal and provincial governments, was previously announced in February.
Phase 2 will create facilities in Dauphin, Morden, Melita, Morris, Hanover, Taché, MacDonald, Rockwood, Sifton, Ritchot, Argyle, Brokenhead, Lake St. Martin First Nation and Norway House Cree Nation.
But on Friday, Stefanson announced that an additional $26 million is being spent to add facilities in Ste. Anne and Wallace-Woodworth, and that the number of spaces being created in the second phase is being increased by 152.
When both phases are complete, a total of 1,970 new child-care spaces will be created in 25 rural and First Nations communities in Manitoba.
The municipalities and First Nations will provide a minimum of two acres of land with 15 years of free rent to the child-care operators, plus snow removal, landscape maintenance and repairs.
“We have heard loud and clear from parents that we need more child-care spaces,” Stefanson said.
The modular facilities are built at one site, then moved to a permanent foundation at the final site. Construction costs are fully funded under the Canada-Manitoba Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
Justin Bova, president of Winnipeg-based Pretium Projects, which built the facilities, said everything involved in the construction, from the design and materials used to the staff involved, is from Manitoba.
Each centre is also fully electric, “ensuring an ultra energy-efficient facility with a reduced carbon footprint — a truly Manitoba project,” he said.
Lori Renton, director of Bright Beginnings Educare, said they have almost 500 people on a wait-list, and the new centre will allow the company to accept a handful of them.
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