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Council considers ending out of school care programs

City covers half the costs of out of school care, 25 families used the program in 2015
Dawson Creek's out of school care programs are offered out of Canalta and Tremblay Elementary.

Several dozen families may have to start looking for alternate after-school arrangements as Dawson Creek City Council considers ending the city's out of school care programs.

At a Feb. 6 meeting on the city’s 2017 budget, councillors debated a staff recommendation to charge more for out of school care programs—a cost-saving measure designed to address the city’s growing fiscal gap.

According to a staff report, the program’s enrollment has declined in recent years. The city subsidizes half the costs, paying an annual $130,000 for childcare services.

Mayor Dale Bumstead said the city is looking for ways to cut costs and raise revenues to tackle its fiscal issues.

“If we’re going to find some dough to try to reduce that impact on our budget, there’s one area that council identified,” Mayor Dale Bumstead said of a resolution Feb. 6 to end the program in June.

In 2015, an average of 25 families used city after-school programs each month. Twenty-eight families enrolled their kids in the city’s Summer Fun program, which provides childcare in July and August.

City staff could not immediately provide up to date figures on how many families could be affected if the program is shuttered after this school year. However, both the summer and year-round programs have seen lower enrollments than in 2015, Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn said.

The city’s fiscal problems are at the fore of this year’s budget. City officials have long warned that inflationary pressures are creating a gap between revenues and expenditures, an issue that has grown more pressing due to a slowdown in assessment growth.

Council held its first meeting of the three-month budgeting process Feb. 6. The budget will be finalized by the end of April, meaning council could reconsider the out of school care decision. The city is holding a public consultation session on the budget March 6.

After-school care is run out of both Tremblay and Canalta Elementary.

City of Dawson Creek draft 2017 budget report by Jonny Wakefield on Scribd