Jessica Kologie, a mother of two children, is well aware of the shortage of daycares in Whistler, which is why she chose to open a daycare business out of her home two years ago.
Whistler has experienced a baby boom since the 2010 Winter Olympics concluded, especially in the last two years. The construction of affordable housing in neighbourhoods such as Rainbow and Cheakamus Crossing meant many couples were in a better position to stay in town to start having families.
But with waiting list times between 18 and 24 months, those families are now desperately looking for childcare options. “We have to support young families in our community and that includes their activities, their lifestyles and their need for childcare,” Kologie said.
She has only been able to care for up to seven children — including her own — as a registered provider. Kologie is not the first person in Whistler to take the Whistler's childcare shortage into her own hands. In January of this year, Kate McCormick opened Mountain Minis Childcare in the area formerly used as an athletes lounge on Legacy Way in Cheakamus Crossing.
“One of the reasons that I wanted to open (Mountain Minis) was that I had a child and I faced the challenges of getting her into care,” said McCormick. “I also wanted to help with the wait lists. When I was speaking to Whistler Children's Centre and Teddy Bear Daycare they were all stating a year and a half to a two-year wait. I asked myself what I could do to help the whole of Whistler, help the community and help the families.”
While McCormick was able to find a suitable venue to serve as a daycare for up to 24 children, she still has 30 families on her wait list.
There are few venues in Whistler that are zoned to serve as a childcare facility. During his term as a Whistler councillor, Ralph Forsyth spoke out against the rezoning of the childcare facility at Spring Creek that was run by the Dandelion Daycare Society, which is now a base for Whistler Community Services Society.
“(We) already had a daycare that was there, beside a school, in a residential neighbourhood, down the street from Cheakamus Crossing,” said Forsyth. “And we changed the zoning, which I voted against. So there goes your daycare.”
But Kologie believes home daycare is a preferred option for parents and it makes sense to have more of them in Whistler, despite protests from neighbours and stratas complaining about noise and visible children's toys.
“Younger children can get more of a home environment, more one to one (attention) with a mom than when they're in a children's centre,” she said. “That's what I've tried to facilitate in this town.”