The beginning of the school year has nearly arrived, but there’s no telling exactly how long it may be before classes resume as the B.C. teachers’ strike continues and parents are faced with securing additional childcare.
At press time, less than a week before classes were slated to begin, several options in Saanich remained open in the likely event schools are not.
While independent programs held across picket lines within schools won’t be able to accommodate even their usual capacity, increasing the childcare crunch, several organizations have stepped up with summer camp extensions for five to 11 year olds.
One such organization is the University of Victoria Vikes Camp, where staff plan to extend two camps, one for five to seven year olds and the other for eight-to 11 year olds, at the university’s Ian Stewart Complex.
“We appreciate the stress that both parties are under,” said Vikes camps and community programmer Sandy Ferrin. “We’re really trying to provide a service for any of our staff who are parents and in need of some support during a challenging time for everybody.”
Registration is open to the public for the four-and five-day camps from Sept. 2 – 5 and 8 – 12 at $120 and $150, respectively, at vikesrec.uvic.ca.
At Saanich Commonwealth Place, a general school closure camp is on offer for the same period at $144 and $180 each week, along with the guarantee that should school resume, the rec centre will pro-rate the cost. Similar programming is available at Gordon Head rec centre.
Saanich Community Services also hosts the Playground Program, a subsidized day camp that sees kids entertained outside in Saanich parks all day.
Campers will have access to a hut and washrooms, as well as rainy day locations. Meadow Park, Copley Park, and Reynolds Park set the scene for much more affordable camp at $85 weekly, or $25 drop-in daily. Visit saanich.ca for contact details.
“Families should be on top of it pretty quickly because space is filling up,” said Saanich Commonwealth Place recreation programmer Alyssa Taylor, noting the 25-child drop-in limit program wide. Visit saanich.ca for contact details.
Meanwhile Kids Klub, a Christian non-profit organization offering daycare, preschool and after school care around Greater Victoria, isn’t able to provide for its regular families.
“Most of them, we can’t get into the schools,” said Tertia Yates, executive director of Kids Klub.
Fourteen of Kids Klub’s 21 childcare sites are located across picket lines. Just four of Kids Klub’s 13 Saanich locations remain open, and are currently at capacity.
Because the organization is licensed by Island Health, sites require approval from the health authority, a process which takes several weeks to complete, and one Kids Klub has not yet undertaken.
“We’re just saying we’re really sorry,” Taylor said, “but we’re full.”