For some, the new Windsor Day Care Centre is nothing short of a dream come true.
In the old building, daycare director Pat Post says her greeting of newcomers often involved begging pardon.
She used to feel compelled to assure parents that the Windsor Day Care Centre’s programs and staff are second to none. That promise was shortly followed with a “please ignore the condition of the building.”
That’s not the case now.
“We don’t have to apologize for ourselves anymore,” she said with a contented grin during an interview in her new office.
“It’s wonderful to be in a place that’s so new and fresh and clean and made just for us.”
The $1-million building housing the daycare opened for business Oct. 29. The building, built by the Halifax-based Avondale Construction, includes in-floor heating, and bright and spacious rooms for infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and after school groups.
The infant room, which has space for eight children six months of age or older, is a service that has been in demand for many years but, Post says, it was not possible to accommodate another age group in the old centre.
The new daycare includes two rooms for toddlers and preschoolers and a separate playground for infants.
Two employees have been hired for the larger centre, bringing the employee count to 12, and more will be recruited if the enrollment continues to climb.
Post says enrollment numbers increased from 54 in October, to 68 Nov. 7. The centre has room for 80 children.
Although staff and volunteers serving on the Windsor Day Care Society (WDCS) are still putting in long days to ensure the old building is emptied, and the move has been tiring, Post and WDCS president Leslie Porter say every ounce of effort put into this transition has been well worth it.
“I thought I was going to retire before this was going to happen,” chuckled Post, a 35-year employee of the centre.
“We wouldn’t have this daycare without Leslie because her perseverance and drive — I mean all of us have worked hard and the construction company (was) awesome — but without Leslie’s drive and not letting it go, we might have given up.”
Porter, who played an integral role in securing the government funding and loans necessary for the build, said she learned how important the Windsor Day Care Centre is to the community as a single mother in pursuit of post-secondary education.
“If I hadn’t had the Windsor Day Care Centre all those years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to school, and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did in nursing,” she said.
“It would have been a whole different life for me, probably.”
Porter later met her husband, a former paramedic better known as Hants West MLA Chuck Porter, and their three children also went to the daycare.
“If I hadn’t had the Windsor Day Care Centre all those years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to school, and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did in nursing.” - Leslie Porter
“Some of these teachers have been here for so long and I’m so happy that we could get them a new building after all these years.”
Porter says the original tender for the new centre was issued five years ago. The project was stalled when the society had to reapply for previously approved government funding.
“It felt like you were up against a brick wall a lot of times,” said Post.
She says it was becoming increasingly difficult to meet licensing requirements as the condition of the old building continued to worsen with time.
In the end, the new childcare centre was paid for with a $675,000 forgivable loan issued by the provincial government, a $225,000 low-interest loan from the same party and a $150,000 loan from the Hants-Kings Community Business Development Corporation.
The executive non-profit society overseeing operations at the centre is still tasked with planning fundraisers that will allow the society to chip away at the $325,000 in debt accrued from the build, but, Post says, morale is high at the new home of the Windsor Day Care Centre.
“It’s just a giant leap forward.”