Location for new facility to be determined
A decade-long push for a licensed daycare in Sedley paid off last week with the announcement of federal government funding for 30 regulated child care spaces in the village.
The question now is where the facility will be located.
In a Nov. 10 news release, the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan jointly announced $23.5 million to support 2,349 new subsidized child care spots in Saskatchewan.
Funding is being provided through the Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. That deal was signed in 2021 and will provide $1.1 billion in federal money for Saskatchewan child care over five years, with the provincial government responsible for allocating the funds.
The newly-formed board for Sedley’s Prairie Playhouse Early Learning Centre Inc. subsequently confirmed in a statement of its own that the local group will receive “up to $300,000 in capital funding, among other start-up and ongoing grants to subsidize wages and offset parent fees.”
Speaking to The Forum on Monday, Prairie Playhouse chair Kelsey Morrison said the board had lobbied the provincial Ministry of Education in recent months, asking the province to support the village’s most recent application, which was submitted in November 2022.
The village first applied to the province for child care funding in 2013 and had submitted its case for consideration annually since.
“We thought we were going to have to make a brand new application,” said Morrison. “We were all pretty flabbergasted.”
Morrison added that the village’s changing demographics may have helped as well.
Federal Census data from 2021 shows the number of children aged 14 and under in Sedley grew nearly 44 per cent over the previous decade. As a percentage of the community’s residents, that age group also made up 32 per cent more of the population compared with 2011.
“Sedley’s population has changed a lot … and we know they definitely look at community need (when the government decides on child care funding) so I think they could see that need was growing here,” said Morrison.
Next up: Finding a home.
As previously reported in The Forum, members of what is now the Prairie Playhouse organization (which Morrison said formally incorporated as a non-profit in late August) asked Sedley council in July to designate the former Affinity Credit Union building as the home for a future daycare. That request was denied.
The village had purchased the building from Affinity for $1 after the lender withdrew its services from Sedley at the end of June.
Council then passed a motion at its Aug. 15 meeting supporting “the forming of a new daycare committee to assist in completing a new application for a licensed daycare” on Prairie Valley School Division property.
Records show PVSD owns just over 15.8 acres of land along Prairie Avenue in Sedley — an area that encompasses the current school, the previous school and three baseball diamonds.
The property is also home to a popular playpark, separate from the school grounds, which was built with support from a now-defunct local Optimist club.
Morrison says that park would be torn down if the daycare board can come to an agreement with Prairie Valley.
“As you know, our organization originally requested that council approve use of the old Affinity building for our child care centre, however, that request was denied,” Morrison said. “Council instead wants our organization to build new, at the Sedley school grounds, where the existing community park is located. Thus, our organization has entered into negotiations with Prairie Valley School Division for that piece of property.”
Morrison added that while $300,000 in capital funding would have covered considerable costs to renovate the former credit union, it may not cover half the price of a new build.
As a result, the Prairie Playhouse board is planning a series of fundraisers, starting with a New Year’s Eve cabaret at the Sedley Gym Hall.
“As you can imagine, building new is not going to be an easy feat,” said Morrison. “We may be looking at applying for a mortgage, and undoubtedly we will be looking to fundraise a fairly large amount of money just to break ground and bring this dream to reality.
“As a board, we are looking forward to the work that we have ahead.”
Sedley mayor Alan Currie did not reply to a request for comment.