Two-and-a-half years after moving into its new consolidated headquarters on Columbia Drive in Smithers, the Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre (CDC) has sold its old building outside of town and is pushing to get the funds needed to finish its Project Pinwheel that is meant to renovate the old church it is now.
Just under $300,000 has been raised so far, mostly from generous individuals and businesses within the Bulkley Valley. Money from the sale of the old facility will also go towards Project Pinwheel. The centre is moving the rest of its programming out of the old building in November.
The centre needs just under $1 million to create a top notch facility that services 30 communities in an area covering 1,450 square kilometres, from Atlin to Vanderhoof.
In the year leading up to the end of March, the centre served over 680 children. That number is expected to grow as services for families are enhanced.
Some grants have been received, but the centre needs more. Its gets operational funding from the Ministry of Child and Family Development, but capital funding has not yet been forthcoming from the provincial and federal governments.
“Our biggest struggle has been the provincial government. That’s been hard. We’ve worked really hard with the previous government, with MLAs in our area and the Cabinet ministers from the North, to really engage them in this process,” explained CDC executive director Kerrie Bassett.
The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako gave money to help repair the roof and furnace, and Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) also chipped in so far.
Bassett stressed the biggest advantage of an upgraded facility is accessibility.
“Our sensory motor rooms will be on the main floor — at the other building they’re in the basement; and to have more rooms to have one on one meetings with families; and we’ll have specialized rooms as well for therapy, for assessments; and more organized, more integrated, but it’s truly about accessibility in the exterior and the interior,” she explained.
Reaction to the centre moving into the neighbourhood has been positive, according to Bassett.
“Families have really appreciated the move into town, the access to our play groups. We’ve had an increased amount of people come in to borrow and lend toys from our resources, get support from our variety of staff members,” she said.
The centre is also an evacuation site for the neighbouring Bulkley Valley District hospital. Health services are something the centre is trying to highlight when applying to the Ministry of Health for funding.
“We provide health and social services here, and we need to respond to the needs of children who may access services through hospitals, B.C. Children’s Hospital, Prince George Regional Hospital and they come home to their community. We have the team of pediatric therapists who are here to respond to that and for us to meet with them,” said Bassett.
“So we are an invaluable asset to our community to be here, and being here is having that facility to offer those programs and services.”