Ranger Park Nature Pre-School is run by the Town of Smithers.

Smithers town hall meeting on Ranger Park pre-school’s fate

A public meeting at town hall on the future of Ranger Park Nature Pre-School is tonight at 7 p.m.

A public meeting at town hall on the future of Ranger Park Nature Pre-School is tonight at 7 p.m.

There was an open house on March 8 and there will be another on March 18 at the Ranger Park building on Sixteenth Avenue. In between, council is holding a public meeting to hear what residents have to say about the possible closure of the subsidized pre-school.

The committee of the whole tonight will be less formal than most, with plenty of opportunity for those who come to town hall to have their say, according to CAO Anne Yanciw.

She added that the open houses are an effort to increase the continually declining enrolment at the pre-school, which last faced closure in 2014 but was saved after many residents bemoaned its loss.

That public support did not translate to more kids joining. This fall saw 103 kids participate, down from 121 in 2014 and 205 in 2011.

Another change being made, more than a year after the last closure consideration, is the implementation of monthly enrolment for the April to June session — which could be the pre-school’s last.

Parents up to this point had to pay the full quarter-year fee up front, which the instructors and many who came to fight the closure in 2014 said limited enrolment.

A decision by council would come at a regular council meeting, which Yanciw said would be either March 22 or April 5.

Mayor Taylor Bachrach said the process is to avoid the uproar caused by the last closure threat happening in camera, behind closed doors. He added that the numbers “speak for themselves.”

“And at a certain point, we have to ask ourselves whether we’re the best-positioned organization to provide the service,” said Bachrach.