The Mayor for the Town of Morris says he was disappointed to see his town left off the initial list of nine communities to benefit from a multi-government partnership to build new childcare spaces in Manitoba.
The governments of Canada and Manitoba are allocating up to $70 million in capital funding for new child-care facilities, creating more than 1,200 new, regulated non-profit child-care spaces across the province with a focus on rural and First Nations communities over the next year. The projects are part of a new partnership between government and local municipalities and will see a hybrid-construction pilot project using modular building, prefabricated construction process and an innovative building design that can be replicated, readily transported and built in communities across Manitoba.
Despite working with the province and the local daycare board over the last four years to look for opportunities to get a capital facility built in town, Morris was not included in these latest discussions, says Crick.
"We've been having this conversation multiple times with AMM (Association of Manitoba Municipalities), as well as the province and within the Pembina Valley reeves and mayors. We've talked to ministers, we've talked to our MLA, we've talked to government officials," he explains. "Half of our kids in our childcare centre are in the gymnasium of a church because we don't have enough space for them in the facility. And then a program is announced which would have been a great solution for us and we weren't even aware it was being considered. It's a bit of a kick in the teeth."
"I think one of the guiding principles we've had as a council is, as a town, is we need to take care of ourselves, and we can't really depend on other levels of government. I think they've shown us multiple times how true that can be," adds Crick.
The Manitoba government is also soliciting proposals to develop up to eight more facilities in communities throughout the province with close to 600 additional child-care spaces to be identified by the spring.
Crick says the community will do what it can to find a way to support an application for this second phase but notes they will be getting a submission ready by the mid-December deadline.
"Especially for a small community like Morris, which is within a dike. For example, two acres of serviceable land, fifteen years free rent to childcare providers selected to operate the centre, and land and building supports, maintenance/repairs. That's a really difficult thing to pull together in five weeks," says Crick, pointing to the criteria required of municipalities in this partnership. "And although we've looked at opportunities to work with the Morris Early Learning Centre to try and find a suitable location for them in the future, this is not something that we just have at hand."