Blog

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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We are so close!

Hello Everyone!

Well the flurry of activity that has been going on over the past few weeks is finally coming to fruition. Last week we rented a big old UHaul and drove down to Nanaimo to pick up the shelves we had custom-made by Marley’s brother, Max. We jumped for joy when we saw them, and grunted and sweated our way through the rest of the day, picking up tables and chairs, all the materials that have been in storage lockers, and 16 mats for rest time.

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On Thursday we started organizing the piles of materials, and putting together the children’s furniture we ordered. Friends and family came to help and worked hard with cheery dispositions.

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Friday was spent organizing all our materials, some construction on the cubby closet, and adding felt pads to the shelving units. We really could not have done everything we have accomplished so far without the community of people helping us. We can’t thank all of you enough!

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Monday afternoon our classroom will be almost complete, except for our big beautiful circle carpet and some Montessori materials, which we will be picking up on Tuesday.

Words cannot express how happy and excited we are to share our space with you!!

OPEN HOUSE is August 9 @7pm, and we are still meeting individual families all week to register children for September 2018.

Thank you!

Marley and Kayla

WAIT LIST

Hello All!

We are thrilled with the high level of interest thank you for all your questions and comments!

In order to actually place you on our wait list, we need some key pieces of information

  • Your full name
  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s birthdate
  • Preferred start date
  • Contact info, including phone number and email

At our open house, we will be compiling our wait list and over the next few days we will be calling parents to register children and fill spaces.* If you receive a call from us, and you would like to be enrolled at our school, we will need a deposit from you which secures your spot. The deposit is half of the first month’s fee, or $625.00. This is non-refundable (unless there is some unforeseeable error on our behalf).

Priority will be given to those who are first on the wait list, but age of the child and philosophy alignment will also factor into the decision-making process.

*If you have already met with us and given a deposit, your space is still secure.

Please email blueheronmontessoripreschool@gmail.com for all wait list requests.

Thank you

Blue Heron Montessori Team

Blue Heron Updates!

Hello and welcome to our site!

We are in the process of rezoning for the building we have leased. We will open in September 2018, with space for 8 children. Projected rezoning date is November 2018, when we will have space for 16 children.

We are taking a wait list of interested individuals, and we will have an open house mid-August for prospective families.

If you are interested in our program, we will invite you and your child to come in for a 20 min interview with Miss Marley and Miss Kayla. This gives your child an opportunity to explore the space and see if we are a good fit for you, as well as answer any questions you may have.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Please use our contact form if you are interested, or email us at blueheronmontessoripreschool@gmail.com