The Yellowknife YWCA has taken a daycare for Fort Smith off its work plan after a fire destroyed the Rockhill transitional housing building.
In June, executive director Lyda Fuller said the YWCA planned to own and operate a 24-spot daycare in Fort Smith for infants and toddlers.
“The resources we would have dedicated to this are now being used for our housing program,” Fuller told Cabin Radio by email on Friday, adding she had updated the president of the Fort Smith Daycare Society.
Samantha Stokell, the society’s president, said her organization is exploring other options and will no longer be importing a modular building as the YWCA had planned.
The YWCA previously planned to sell a Yellowknife property – worth around $400,000 – and apply for federal funding to finance the Fort Smith pilot project.
Before the fire altered plans, the YWCA had aimed to have the daycare open by January 1, 2019.
Demand for childcare spaces
During her re-election campaign in October, Mayor Lynn Napier-Buckley told Cabin Radio the Town of Fort Smith should explore options for helping to introduce a daycare, even though it is not considered a municipal service.
“We know that has been a barrier for employment, for people planning to move to Fort Smith – even students planning to move to Fort Smith,” she said.
As in many NWT communities, childcare spaces are desperately needed in Fort Smith
In June, the Fort Smith Daycare Society said two licensed day homes offered approximately 16 places. According to the territory’s July 1, 2017 population estimates, Fort Smith has around 127 children aged four or under.
A feasibility study on universal, affordable daycare for the NWT, using data from February 2015, found childcare is available for 39 percent of children aged four or under, and 13 percent of those aged five to 11.