– Brandy Maslowski is the Executive Director at the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 778.476.3111 or director@penticton.org.

PENTICTON – In response to the need for children and families in the South Okanagan region to have greater access to high quality child care, Okanagan College is building a child care centre at the Penticton campus, which is scheduled to open in September 2017.

Okanagan College has partnered with the Penticton and District Community Resources Society (PDCRS), who will be operating the facility. The Centre will provide 64 spaces for infants and toddlers, ages 3-5 daycare, preschool programs and after school care. The Centre will allow the College to better support its students, employees and the local community in addressing their child care needs.

It features a unique extended hours operating model ensuring that students and College employees in daytime and nighttime classes will have access to licensed child care. It will also support families in the community who work extended hours or shift work.

Building on the College’s standards of environmental excellence achieved in the Jim Pattinson Centre for Excellence, the centre is already piquing interest for its innovation in sustainable construction. Penticton builder Ritchie Custom Homes is constructing the new 4,000 square foot facility which will be the first certified Passive House child care centre in Canada using 80-90 per cent less energy than a standard child care facility, decreasing annual operating costs.

The building is designed to LEED Platinum standards and has the goal of meeting net zero energy by including solar technology and monitoring systems. The Centre also includes a 4,000 square foot outdoor play space to encourage children to explore the outdoors in a learning environment constructed of natural materials.

The project provides opportunities for college students to be involved in the design and construction of the facility and will serve as a practicum site for students in the Early Childhood Education program at the College.

The construction cost of the facility is $1.2 million. As announced in the fall of 2016, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided $500,000 through its Child Care Major Capital Funding program towards the building.

The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” has never been more true in the South Okanagan for the College’s Bright from the Start: Building for the Future campaign seeks support from individuals and organizations in the community to reach the fundraising goal of $700,000.

The campaign has inspired brother-and-sister Quentin and Allison Markin to issue a unique donation-matching challenge to alumni of Okanagan College and Okanagan University College.

The Markin twins attended the College for the first year of their post-secondary education and are prepared to match alumni donations to the child care centre campaign, up to a collective total of $10,000, to help raise $20,000 toward the campaign goal. Alummi have until the centre opens this fall to have their donation matched and can make a contribution at www.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni.

Donate today or learn more about the centre at www.okanagan.bc.ca/give.