Blog

Summer Program!

Hello All

We are considering running a pilot summer program for the month of July 2019. We are putting the feelers out there to see if there is interest before we confirm the program with licencing.

If you are considering sending your child to Blue Heron Montessori, but summer care is a factor in your decision, please send along your feedback. It would be much appreciated!

We will be giving first priority to our current families, and our max capacity would be 16. After allowing our current families to sign up in April, we would open up the remaining spots to the general public.

As a reminder, if you are on the wait list for September 2019 but your child is 3-5 years old now, we recommend getting in now while we have spaces available. Our wait list for September 2019 is growing longer and longer, but any families who sign up for our care during this school year will be given first priority for spaces in the Fall.

Thank you!

Miss Marley

WE DID IT!

We are thrilled to announce that the rezoning has been approved! We are finishing the last steps in completing the paperwork for Vancouver Island Health Authority. We are officially ready to welcome new families in for March!

The support from our community has been nothing short of incredible. We feel so lucky to have such wonderful families participating in the growing process of our first year as a centre. We will forever look back and remember the special individuals who helped us establish ourselves not only as a child care centre, but as young business women. Thank you for everything you have done for us, we are very grateful.

We were a little bit nervous for our time to present at the public hearing, but we spoke our truth and the Mayor and City Council heard us. We outlined the length of time we spent waiting (9 months), and how that impacted us financially (working for less than $9/hr). The council apologized for our wait, and assured us they are looking into a faster process to streamline applications such as ours, which are a direct benefit to the community and have no construction involved.

We hope that our story has helped make a small change and paved the way for other centres who are in a similar situation. Please, reach out to us if you need support, and mention our story to help push growth in the right direction!

Thank you again everyone!

We still have a few spaces left in for our March intake, but they are going fast! Please get into contact with us if you would like to book a tour.

blueheronmontessoripreschool@gmail.com

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3 Snow Days!

Hello Everyone

We cannot believe that another snow day has been called by SD61, but here we are! We hope everyone has what they need and are staying safe and warm. We encourage you to check in on your neighbours and school friends, make some baked goods to share, and play together in the snow.

Although the snow has shut down all schools and many businesses in Victoria, City Hall is still open. That means our public hearing will continue as planned, on Thursday February 14 @ 6:30 pm. If it is unsafe for you to travel, please stay home tomorrow evening. If you would still like to show your support for us, letters must be emailed in to publichearings@victoria.ca by today, Wednesday February 13, at 11 am.

Thank you for you continued support, and we will keep everyone updated for tomorrow!

Public Hearing Date and March Intake

The city has now officially given us our Public Hearing date. It is set to take place on Thursday, February 14 at 6:30 p.m, held in the City Hall Council Chambers. We welcome you to voice support at this time by attending this meeting. For those who are unable to attend, your input can be via mail or email to: publichearings@victoria.ca, or you can drop off your written feedback at Victoria City Hall to the  City Hall Ambassador located to the left of the main entrance. Correspondence should be received  by 11 a.m. the day before the Council meeting. Please note that all correspondence submitted will form part of the public record and will be published in the meeting agenda. Your address is relevant to Council’s consideration of this matter and will be included as part of the public record. If you choose to share your phone number and email address with us and wish that it not be disclosed, please let us know and we will ensure it remains confidential.

After the meeting takes place and our re-zoning is approved there are only a few steps left in our process of welcoming 8 more families into our care. These include amending our business license and childcare licence and having a fire inspection. These are scheduled to be approved by March 1 2019. Thank you for your ongoing support through this time. We are so excited that we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and all of our hard work is finally coming to fruition.

Now that we are ready to accept registration forms from families, we encourage those who would like to join our center to please contact myself or Miss Marley to schedule meetings. We do have a wait list we are going through, but currently we have all 8 spaces available. If you are a family on our wait list, please follow up ASAP.

Thank you

Miss Kayla

Rezoning and Advocacy

The childcare situation is dire in Victoria. Part of this issue is because there are no Early Childhood Educators available to hire. Unfortunately, this is due to working conditions for ECE’s that are often poor. We work long hours (many work 8-5). We are paid anywhere from $15-$20 per hour, health benefits are rare, and taking a day off is almost impossible because of the shortage of subs and staff. Another contributing factor is burn out due to the lack of respect for our position from society and parents. Not only do we spend our working hours caring for children, we spend countless hours of our evenings and weekends preparing materials, planning for challenging behaviors, and attending workshops to better our practices and keep our licenses. With the pay and conditions so lacking, it’s hard to entice others to join the field. Many ECE’s are trying to open their own centres in order to make this career path better for ourselves, but this presents its own challenges.

As you all know, I have been in the process of rezoning the James Bay Athletic Association building to include the use of daycare. There are no physical changes I am making. The only thing that will change is the addition of the sentence “for daycare use” on the covenant as well as the zoning restrictions. I have been trying to have this done since May 2018. The rezoning process involved so much, and I spent the entire summer working on obtaining all the correct documents to have my application complete. I had to draw my own floor plans (many, many times over) and measure and outline parking plans. I sat through meetings with urban planners, business license and permit city workers. I wrote letters and attended community meetings.

For more insight into the rezoning process, here is a link to an application form https://www.victoria.ca/assets/Departments/Planning~Development/Development~Services/Applications/Rezoning%20Application.pdf

I waited for weeks to hear back from my urban planner, and due to the election, our application was neglected. Finally our case was taken over by a new urban planner, and I was given the prediction that our rezoning would not be complete until late Spring 2019. This was devastating for us to hear. Then the covenant restriction was addressed, and I had to have my lawyer write up an amendment for the city to consider. Thankfully, after this we were notified that we would be scheduled in for the Committee of the Whole Meeting on November 15th.

When I attended the meeting all I felt was frustration. Instead of being passed through to the Public Hearing a city council member chose to question my business agreement with the James Bay Athletic Association. This was done with the intention of creating more affordability but unfortunately this member did not have knowledge about the Affordable Childcare Benefit Plan, how daycare licensing works, or what a fair price is for parents to pay for a Montessori childcare environment. He was attempting to restrict the covenant in a way that only allowed us to have our daycare if we were charged an incredibly low price for rent and then passed that money back to parents. The suggestion was for the JBAA to charge us only $1500 for rent, and split the remaining money we would have spent on rent ($1500) between parents. This would have meant a whopping $93.75 in savings each month.  It is not the responsibility of a private non-profit organization to make affordability for parents, it is the responsibility of the provincial government. The JBAA is already graciously charging us well below market price. Thankfully, because of my good relationship with the JBAA, they were willing to push forward to support me as I addressed each issue in a second letter I was required to write to the Mayor and Council. I would have understood if the JBAA had pulled out of their lease agreement with me, as the amount of trouble this has caused has not been easy on anyone. In addition to the actual process of going through the rezoning, the amount of money we have poured into the city to achieve this has hindered our ability to stay afloat as a small business. For rezoning cases concerning childcare centres, I believe there should be a reduced fee in the interest of helping providers create spaces. If the city was really concerned with affordability, why not take that on themselves, and pass the savings on to parents by charging the childcare centres less in rezoning fees?

Ultimately, at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting on November 22nd, the city did pass our application through to the Public Hearing, and we are waiting to find out our date for that. The Public Hearing is an opportunity to voice your support for us. If you cannot attend, writing letters can help just as much. There is a woman who ran for council, Grace Lore, who is working on a petition for the city to make an action plan regarding childcare, as well as revisit rezoning requirements in order to open up more daycares. https://gracelore.ca/childcare-petition/

The government has promised changes in affordability, but these changes cannot happen if there are no spaces available. Working in the field of childcare right now is like an up-hill battle. There are people in the community who are fiercely advocating for change, and as someone who has now entered this world as an owner of a centre, I feel it is my responsibility to continue to be a strong voice in the BC Childcare conversation.

If you are also someone who wants to see great changes happen in the world of childcare, please contact me. Coming together and presenting ourselves professionally shows we take our positions seriously. The work we do is essential to society moving forward in a positive way.

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

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Updates!

Hello current and prospective families!

We are happy to share that our opening was a complete success. We have 8 wonderful families in our care, and we feel grateful everyday that this is our place of work. Having the opportunity to share and explore the world with these children is something we cherish.

Our first two months have gone very well, and although we are currently full, we are still meeting families and providing tours. We have had some updates in terms of our rezoning: the new projected date is January 2019. We do have a wait-list for this intake, and at that time we will be able to offer 8 new spaces.

As I have waded my way through the rezoning steps, I have learned so much about how the City of Victoria handles this process. I am eager to share my story after our rezoning is complete. I would like to advocate for other childcare centers in Victoria who are looking to expand or open up spaces. There are many of us out there who are seeking to meet the need for childcare, but unfortunately there are a series of very expensive and complicated hoops we must jump through. The process can be overwhelming and if I could help anyone or provide some tips I would love to do that. So if you are a childcare provider wanting any advice, please contact me!

Here are some photos that document our year so far. Thank you for your continued support!

Miss Marley

The classroom is ready!

We are so happy to share with you our finished classroom! Thanks to our hard work, and the incredible support of family and friends who have helped along the way, it’s finally finished.

We have just a few spaces left for the September start, and some for the November/December start as well. If you would like to register your child, please send us an email with the following information , and we can set up a meeting to proceed!

  1. Child’s full name
  2. Parent’s full name(s)
  3. Child’s birthdate
  4. Preferred start date

First day of school is September 4, 2018. We are so excited to welcome our new students into this beautiful environment!

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