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Provincial pilot project will bring more child care, affordable housing to Fernie

The government is funding a child care centre and 27 new housing units in south Fernie

Fernie has been selected to take part in a pilot project run by the provincial government that will see a new childcare space and housing unit built at the south end of town next year.

The care space will provide $10-per-day daycare spaces for as many as 100 children, age five and under, while the neighbouring housing units will have 27 rentable living-spaces. Preference will be given to housing applicants who work in early childhood education, both at the new care space and at other centres around town.

Fernie was chosen specifically for the pilot project because it is a community that is lacking child care services and affordable housing. Michael Boronowski, chief administrative officer for the City of Fernie, said workers are leaving the area or choosing not to live in the city because these key resources are missing.

“It’s challenging in Fernie to hire, recruit, retain and support professionals in many sectors. A big driver is housing and another is child care availability,” he said.

Boronowski said that at least half of the housing units will fall 80 per cent below median market rent in Cranbrook.

READ MORE: 30-unit Timbers Landing housing project slated for occupancy fall 2023

Local charity Elk Valley Family Society and non-profit real-estate company New Commons Development will work together to build the facilities, and Elk Valley Child Care Society will run the care centre. Construction will begin in the spring and the buildings should be ready for occupancy in the fall.

Both the child care centre and the housing units will be located beside the Aquatic Centre, and the dirt bike jumps will have to be moved in order to accommodate the project. Boronowski said stakeholders are working with Fernie Trail Alliance to put together a plan to build and fund a new set of jumps.

The provincial government is contributing $10 million to the project through the British Columbia New Spaces Fund and the Canada-British Columbia Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. A further $9 million is being funded by B.C. Housing.

“I’m really encouraged and optimistic because the province recognizes that there are sectors where we have to combine initiatives to really move the dials,” said Boronowski.


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About the Author: Gillian Francis

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