Concept design for a renovated Bulkley Child Development Centre in Smithers. Contributed illustration

Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre denied provincial and federal funding

The Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre wants to know why it was denied funding.

The Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre (CDC) said it was denied capital funding for its new facility by both the provincial and federal governments.

“It is frustrating,” said CDC executive director Kerrie Bassett.

“In the North we cover a lot of rural communities and do regional work. We help support families so they can remain in their communities by delivering pediatric therapy services to them.”

The CDC offers a number of programs such as Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, and more to 30 communities from Atlin to Vanderhoof.

Bassett said the CDC’s applications to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community, Sports and Cultural Development’s Community Gaming Grants Program were recently turned down.

Comox Valley Child Development Association’s application to the gaming grants program was approved and they received $250,000 for an expansion to the Comox Valley Autism Centre in Courtenay, which will focus on supporting children with autism and will include specialized equipment.

The Comox Valley Child Development Association also received $100,000 in capital funding from the previous BC Liberal government in April to support its Autism Centre.

“We haven’t really been given an answer of why they can’t just give us similar funds to what they’ve given other child development centres for their capital projects,” said Bassett.

She said the CDC is working with Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister and Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson on the issue.

As a member of the Opposition Donaldson spoke in the legislature on the CDC’s behalf. Donaldson said he spoke with Minister of Health Adrian Dix regarding the CDC’s funding issues in the fall and plans on speaking with him again soon.

“I’ll be working with my colleagues in the coming fiscal year to see what capital opportunities there will be for the development centre,” said Donaldson.

A new provincial budget will announced Feb. 20, according to Donaldson.

Town of Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach also spoke with Dix in the fall and followed up with a letter asking for provincial support.

“The child development centre is an organization that has a tremendous positive impact on families in our region,” said Bachrach. “This is a project that not only benefits Smithers residents but really benefits the whole Northwest.”

Bassett said the CDC recently found out it was turned down for the federal accessibility grant and is working with Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen to find out why.

“It is disappointing to hear that we can’t get federal dollars to support some of the accessibility need,” said Bassett. “That’s the key in this project — accessibility.”

The CDC’s new facility will feature an accessible entrance for individuals in wheelchairs as well as an accessible washroom.

Despite the disappointments, the CDC will move forward with its plan to completely move all operations into the new facility in the coming months.

As of Feb. 9, the CDC will no longer be operating out of its office on Railway Avenue. Play groups and drop in services will be moved to their Ranger Park location.

Programs will continue as scheduled at other locations.

Anyone with questions is asked to call them at 250-847-4122.

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