BVCDC executive director Kerri Basset (centre) with Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson and Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach in front of the building under renovation. Chris Gareau photo

Child Development Centre gets $300,000

VIDEO: Take a tour of the renovations at the Bulkley Valley CDC in Smithers.

After wondering if the grants were ever going to come, Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre (CDC) finally is having success securing the help it needs to renovate its Columbia Drive building and bring all its Smithers services under one roof.

The latest grant is the largest: $300,000 from the Provincial Health Services Authority.

CDC executive director Kerri Basset was full of thanks after the announcement came out Friday.

“Thank-you to our community members for their donations, their support in fundraising events, and the grant opportunities we’ve had access to apply to to help support this regional centre’s development. The support of the federal government in conjunction with local funding and grant opportunities has supported our elevator to be installed,” said Basset.

She also thanked the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Smithers council, and local MP Nathan Cullen and MLA Doug Donaldson before stressing how important local community member support was key in the big grants rolling in.

“This community has supported us in recognizing the importance of this project, and voicing and advocating for the government to help us out,” said Basset.

Tour of the renovations:

Stikine MLA and Minister for Rural Development Doug Donaldson said Friday this was good for the Northwest.

“I think it’s a recognition of the amazing work that the Child Development Centre does in a regional focused model, which is pretty unique in the province,” he said.

The Province took a while to get the money, and Donaldson said it was a matter of process.

“Representations by Kerri and the mayor and others as far as to the Minister of Health Adrian Dix really helped. I know Mayor (Taylor) Bachrach met with Adrian at the UBCM, Union of B.C. Municipalities, and we’ve had letter, and I think just the recognition of how much money has come in from donors locally is a really unique feature, too,” he said.

“Took a while, but things are worth waiting for sometimes and turn out in good packages.”

Bachrach said the CDC has a long history of being an important organization in town that helps a lot of families.

“This new facility I think is going to really secure the future of the organization, and hopefully they can continue to benefit families for decades into the future,” he said.

Bachrach added the CDC is important to Smithers as a place that adds to its regional services.

But its the kids who benefit most.

“The Child Development Centre is absolutely vital to the care of kids in our communities facing developmental challenges,” said Jaymie Praught, whose child receives services through the Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre, in a release.

“We were told our daughter might never walk or speak, but with the help of her team from the CDC, she can now walk with the help of a gait trainer and speak a few words. Their role in her care is crucial to her progress.”

Basset is hoping to open up the CDC building by early June. The exterior would be done as weather permits.

The kids who would normally be bundling their energy at the CDC during the day are spread among other locations during construction.

Drop-in programs are at Ranger Park.

“And we’re doing a lot of work in pre-schools, child cares and families’ homes. Really doing the outreach model while we’re under construction,” she explained.

The CDC is a regional service that serves large areas of the Northwest as far as Atlin. It also has centres in the Hazeltons, Vanderhoof and Burns Lake.

The centre supports children from birth through ages 19 and works collaboratively with various community partners and professionals to provide programs such as infant development, Indigenous infant development, support for complex developmental behavioural conditions, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language pathology, family service coordination, and other early years programs and outreach services.

Donations are still being taken for its Project Pinwheel.

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