V.P. academic and advocacy Marion Miller says renovations could start next semester
The red-bricked building in the shadow of Concordia’s library on Bishop Street sits empty, waiting for a breath of new life to fill the shell of what used to be a cafe. As early as next fall, that building will not just be filled with life again, but with the liveliness that comes from having more than 70 children spending the day at the new CSU daycare and nursery centre.
CSU V.P. academic and advocacy Marion Miller officially announced the location of the daycare at the group’s regular council meeting on Wednesday. The CSU will be leasing the building at 1424 Bishop St. from Concordia University for the next decade, and Miller said renovations are set to begin next semester.
“We’re really lucky to have this building because it’s beautiful, it has great huge windows and it’s a lot of space,” she told council.
Miller said Concordia University is working on re-zoning the building to be a daycare.
The initiative for creating a daycare for student-parents originated from the results of a study conducted in 2011 by the Dean of Students Office and the Concordia University Student Parents Centre. That study identified barriers to accessible daycare for student-parents. On the top of the list of things they needed was an affordable daycare option located near the downtown campus providing flexible hours.
Miller said the CSU also took a survey of 253 student-parents currently at Concordia. When asked where the ideal location for their daycare would be, over half of the people surveyed said they’d rather have it near the downtown campus.
In November 2014 the CSU presented a referendum question at their byelection asking students if they were in favour of the continued prioritization of a daycare for student-parents. Concordia undergraduate students took to the polls and 87 per cent of voters were in favour.
Number of kids
The daycare is being designed to take in children under five years old, with the spaces for the oldest children on the third floor and the nursery—for children less than 18 months old—located on the first floor.
“Our consultants had been telling us ‘you don’t want to go over 55 or 60 [kids] to have a comfortable daycare,’” said Miller. “Any more than that and it gets crazy, especially because we’re in a building on three levels … 52 is a pretty good number for us.”
While the daycare can only hold 52 children at any given time, the tentative schedule the CSU put forward has the capability of housing 72 kids in one day. The current plan has 42 slots for children to spend the whole day at the daycare. However, there will also be three different four-hour segments of the day, each of which has room for up to 10 children.
“One of the really attractive points of our daycare will be the flexible schedule,” said Miller. “In our survey it seemed that the majority of folks wanted full-time care but there were some who were more interested in the flexible part-time [care].”
Miller added that the plan is not set in stone, and can change depending on the needs of student-parents once the daycare is up and running.
The upfront costs of renovations for the CSU are upward of $200,000, not including repairs to the base building projects—including a new roof, a new entrance and third floor windows as well as a new electrical room—which will be covered by Concordia. A referendum question at the CSU’s byelections this month will ask students to reallocate 24 cents per credit from the fee-levy already collected from students. This reallocation will to go to the day-to-day costs of the daycare. As a result, if the referendum question is passed the CSU Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency Fund will drop from $1 per credit to 76 cents per credit.
The daycare will also employ 11 staff members, one daycare and nursery manager, four qualified educators, four educator helpers, one kitchen helper and one bookkeeper and an administrative assistant. All but the administrative assistant position would be full time.
Daycare to be CSU subsidiary
The CSU proposal would involve making the daycare a non-profit subsidiary. This will allow the daycare to have its own board instead of forcing CSU council to act as its board.
“That just gets really complicated because then all of the councillors will have to get involved in the administrative governmental regulation relating to the daycare,” said Miller.
The daycare board will instead be made up of seven members, including two student parents, a daycare employee, a community member and the CSU’s president, general manager and one executive.