Parksville’s $7.1 million Family Place facility, a joint project of three provincial ministries, welcomed local and provincial politicians Thursday, to share the credit.
The facility, on School District 69 (Qualicum) property, at Bay Avenue and Highway 19A in Parksville, will include a wide variety of service sfrom Building Learning Together’s offices and some programs, to First Nations education services, child and family development services like counseling and literacy, and Vancouver Island Health Authority public health and family support services.
“Imagine a place where parents can get their children immunized, attend a StrongStart BC program and participate in a parenting class without having to move the car,” states a multi-ministry media release.
The community is, “showing you’re real leaders with this kind of co-operation,” Minister of Children and Family Development Mary McNeil told The News.
“Since the world changed in 2008/2009 we don’t have the economy to continue working in silos, we’ve got to get together, we’re working smart because we’re forced to be smart,” she said.
The multi-use facility will centralize services for families which will be particularly useful for families already struggling with other challenges, she said.
It is also planned to include services like a nutritionist, dental hygienist, pre-school speech therapist, prenatal classes, groups for parents of infants and toddlers, routine immunizations and information on healthy eating, growth, development and learning through play.
Originally announced by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, VIHA and SD69 in April 2009, work has been ongoing on the site for months with the removal of the district operations and maintenance facilities, including 11 portables from the property, and other site preparation.
The photo-op was attended by many dignitaries including Parksville acting mayor Chris Burger, Regional District chair Joe Stanhope, BLT’s Deborah Davenport, retiring district superintendent Candice Morgan, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon, and various ministry representatives.
School district board chair Eve Flynn said the project is, “the result of working partnerships and will help open doors to the many family-related programs and services. We want to create a place where we can continue to develop and deliver programs that benefit children, parents and the broader community.”
Education Minister George Abbott, who couldn’t make the ceremony sent praise.
“My congratulations go to all the partners who have come together to improve the lives of families in the communities of School District 69 through this innovative grouping of services,” he stated in a media release.
The new facility will renovate one of the existing buildings to house the StrongStart BC Munchkinland Discovery Centre that used to be in a portable on the property and build a new two-story, energy-efficient building, the city’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standard building.
Among other features it will use natural light with energy-efficient lighting, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, use recycled materials and retain rain for irrigation.
The project was approved in April 2009 under B.C.’s Accelerated Infrastructure Program, create 45 jobs and maximize the use of wood as part of the provincial Wood First Act. It is scheduled to be completed by next summer.