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Capilano University celebrates groundbreaking on new child-care centre

Groundbreaking celebrates new centre slated to open in 2024

Capilano University marked the start of a major upgrade in on-campus child care and early childhood education studies Thursday (Sept. 22)  with a groundbreaking ceremony at the North Vancouver campus.

Provincial and local politicians joined university president Paul Dangerfield and community members in celebrating the project.

The purpose-built child-centred building is slated to open in 2024. 

The province and university announced in January that a new $18.6-million Centre for Childhood Studies would be built on site at the university. The facility will feature classrooms, labs and a child-care facility with room for 74 children.

The child-care centre has a practical role in providing new spaces to children and families. But it is also intended to promote the field of early childhood education.

Aryanna Chartrand, vice-president of the Capilano Students’ Union, is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Capilano University. 

It’s a field that is finally being recognized for its crucial work with children and families, said Chartrand on Thursday, describing the centre as an “invaluable addition to our community on the North Shore.”

The centre will be located on what is today the site of a facilities shed, just north of the campus’s bus loop and Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation. It’s the first major new capital project on campus since the Bosa Centre opened a decade ago.

The design of the 23,000-square-foot building, which will be constructed to LEED gold environmental standards, is very much intended to integrate the educators' classroom learning upstairs with the children's play-based learning downstairs.

The new child-care spaces will be prioritized for the kids of students and staff on campus, but they will also be open to the general public.

Doubling the capacity for child care on campus will be a tremendous source of relief for many parents, said Shaun McGrath, who graduated from CapU while his children were cared for at the existing campus child-care facility.

Finding a child-care space on the North Shore was difficult, he said. Knowing his son was being well cared for just a minute away on campus was “absolutely priceless,” he added.

More broadly, anyone whose child comes into the care of a CapU early childhood education grad will also see the benefits, Brad Martin, dean for education, health and human development at the school told the North Shore News when the centre was announced.

“The evidence has been out there for a long time about that critical importance of those years and setting children up for future learning, but also the benefits to family and community as well,” he said. “We don't want, as an institution or as a society, to have early childhood educators out there who are not well qualified, who are just given skills to be glorified babysitters. We want educators who lead their field and are trained rigorously as educators.”

The province is putting up a little more than half of the budget for the centre via the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training and Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Capilano University is contributing $9.14 million to the project.

Half of the money has been raised through a capital fundraising campaign, thanks to sizable contributions from the Dajvad Mowafaghian Foundation, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and West Fraser. CapU’s own chancellor Yuri Fulmer and his wife Alesia also donated $2 million.

CapU’s current 69-space Children’s Centre (with 24 spaces for children under 36 months; and 45 spaces for kids 30 months to school age), a not-for-profit child-care facility run by the university and licensed by Vancouver Coastal Health, will remain in operation when the new centre for childhood studies opens.