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City to assess incentivizing development for childcare spaces

For the general benefit of the community, municipalities across the country, including here in Alberta, have taken specific steps to incentivize the development of new childcare spaces.

At its meeting Tuesday, Lethbridge City Council voted to direct Administration to complete a childcare needs assessment. It is to include in-depth background research, thorough analysis and benchmarking of the current childcare landscape; key stakeholder engagement; and the formulation of recommendations to address challenges related to increasing the number of childcare spaces within the city.

Council also voted to approve the allocation of up to $25,000 from Council Contingencies to fund consulting resources to support the development of the outlined childcare needs assessment.

“Council is committed to encouraging and attracting additional childcare spaces throughout the community to promote social and economic vibrancy,” says City Councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, who introduced the Official Business Motion to Council. “Increasing the availability of childcare spaces in Lethbridge is critical to supporting working parents and stimulating economic growth by allowing more individuals to participate in the labour force, as well as educational and English Language Learning (ELL) opportunities. Childcare was really brought to my attention almost a year ago through the work I was doing with the Ukrainian Task Force and local individuals telling me that women couldn’t get to ELL classes because of a lack of childcare opportunities, so then I explored further from there.”

Quality childcare facilities positively impact early childhood development, prepare children for future educational success, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

While family and social supports fall under Provincial jurisdiction, a report generated by City of Lethbridge Administration identified a gap of approximately 600 childcare spaces in the community as of 2023.

“Having adequate childcare coverage is critical to the success of any community and with Council’s direction and allocated funding, Administration now has the means to explore how the City can incentivize the creation of more spaces,” says Logan Bartholow, Project Planning Lead. “In the coming months, we will be collaborating with community stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the current childcare situation in Lethbridge and will then be returning to Council in the new year with recommendations and strategies to tackle our community’s unique challenges.”

As part of the OBM, Administration is to report back to Council by Q2 2024.

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