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May. 24, 2022 | Tuesday
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$1.5 million nursery school expansion approved
Jessica Lattanzio, Candice Penny, Niagara Nursery School staff members with members of the preschool class. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Niagara-on-the-Lake is getting a new $1.5 million nursery school — and the wait list already has more than 80 names on it.

Council approved construction of the new child care facility after a closed session Monday evening.

The 4,308-square-foot facility will be added to the east side of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre, adjacent to the public library. The main entrance will be on Anderson Lane.

The facility will include an infant playroom with a kitchenette and a separate sleeping area, a toddler playroom, a preschool playroom with adjacent washrooms and changing rooms, and a school-aged room, as well as office and storage spaces.

The Niagara Nursery School & Child Care Centre now operates out of the Robertson Room at the community centre and can’t accommodate infants or toddlers. The new space will have room for 10 infants, 15 toddlers, 24 preschoolers, and 20 school-aged children.

The costs for the construction will be shared by the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region and the Ministry of Education, through the Community-Based Early Years and Child Care Capital Program grant.

The region provided $200,000 and the province kicked in a grant of $515,000 toward the building’s cost. The town’s $165,869 contribution will come from development charges, not tax revenues. The nursery school must also contribute $100,000​​​.

In addition, the town is issuing a 20-year debenture for $551,961. The school’s monthly rental payments will be equal to the town’s costs for carrying the debenture.

The nursery school will be raising additional money through a capital fundraising campaign, the town said in a media release.

The building is expected to be ready by December 2020. Once the school moves to the new space, the current room will be used by the community centre for room rentals.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said council is pleased to be partnering with the nursery school.

“This is a great opportunity for families in Niagara-on-the-Lake to have access to child care at a younger age than is currently available. We also hope this will be an incentive for new families to move to Town.”

Disero said she believes more young families are moving in and the new facility will also help NOTL’s young families who already have “invested their savings into being a part of this community.”

“The best part of this it will not come from our tax levy,” she said.

Darlene Edgar, director of children’s services for the Region of Niagara, said, “Niagara Region is grateful to partner with Niagara Nursery School to invest in the growth of child care spaces for residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.”

“This addition will improve access to high-quality, licensed child care and is an essential step towards supporting all of Niagara’s families.”

“Niagara Region is committed to expanding child care for all residents, and we are thrilled to be a part of this partnership,” said Edgar in an email response to The Lake Report.

The nursery school has been trying to find a solution for the waiting list problem for quite some time, said the school’s executive director Candice Penny.

“Based on our communications with local families over the years and the size of our wait list, this expansion is greatly needed and will be very beneficial to our community,” Penny said in response to The Lake Report’s inquiry.

“Our growing wait list may reflect the number of families in NOTL needing care. We are happy to be able to support more families in NOTL with our expansion.”

There are nine staff working at the school, which has a capacity of 39 children. Once the new facility is open, a total of 69 children will be accommodated and 15 staff in total will be needed to run the programs.

- with files from Dariya Baiguzhiyeva