Kids, parents, and dignitaries were all on hand for the grand opening of the YMCA Childcare Centre at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) on Thursday (Nov. 16).
The centre provides 86 spaces for children five years old and younger and is a partnership between the YMCA Southern Interior of BC, the City of Kelowna, the province, YLW, and KF Aerospace.
“It’s good for families, it’s good for children, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for employers,” said Grace Lore, Minister of State of Childcare. “I’m happy to announce that dozens of local families and airport staff are now benefitting from this gorgeous new facility.”
The city received approximately $3.8 million from the province to build the facility which is operated by the YMCA.
“As we officially welcome this facility and the much-needed childcare spaces to our community I know many families working on the YLW campus and throughout Kelowna share in my gratitude for this incredible support,” said Mayor Tom Dyas.
KF Aerospace Chief Corporate Services Officer, Grant Stevens, noted that childcare was a significant challenge for many women continuing their careers with the company.
“We would hire, they would have a family and then we would lose them.”
Stevens added that KF Aerospace began its vision for a childcare facility a few years ago.
“It was from there that the program blossomed. We put together a tremendous partnership with the city, the province, the YMCA, and KF, and we’re pretty excited with the outcome that you see behind us.”
Stevens added the company has invested $500,000 in the centre.
David Bond, YMCA board chair, said it’s important for parents to have access to high-quality childcare.
”There is a sense of confidence that you can go back to work and know that your child is getting quality healthcare and childcare…but you also know that they’re close by.”
YLW Chief Executive Officer, Sam Samaddar, said the airport is honoured to be part of the project.
“We are one of the first airports in North America to be able to provide an onsite childcare facility. It’s something that I’ve been pushing with my colleagues…to start toeing the line.”
Since 2018 the province has funded more than 33,000 new licensed childcare spaces in B.C., with more than 1,700 located in the Kelowna area.
READ MORE: Central Okanagan childcare spaces expanding