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What's Going Up: New childcare facility making progress

New facility expected to open in spring or early summer will be 'well worth the wait,' Denison Child Care says

Newmarket’s newest daycare facility is well underway, but families will have to wait a few months before its doors open.

Construction is ongoing for the Denison Child Care Services facility on Fernbank Road, planned to offer 73 care spaces. The facility built on the former Stickwood-Walker farmlands is now projected to open in the spring and early summer.

Denison executive director Nancy Mosey said the organization has completed work, along with the town and the construction company, to address the hurdles.

“It’s a shame that it’s been delayed for as long as it has due to the pandemic and due to some supply issues. It would have been great if it could have been up and operational in 2021,” she said. “Once it opens, it will be well worth the wait.”

The facility is coming about after Denison signed a 10-year lease for the property with the town, with construction originally expected to be completed at the end of 2020. The construction also includes the restoration of the existing heritage farmhouse on the property, which will be used for office and community meeting space.

But after pandemic-related delays, the childcare space is starting to take shape, with dedicated rooms for infants and toddlers, laundry, kitchen and more.

One key feature is high, ceiling-to-floor windows. Early childhood educator Kristin Malecki said Denison wanted the windows in the building to be large.

“That was really important to us in the design process, to bring the outdoors in,” she said.

Those outdoors are a key component of what Denison wants to do with the property. Mosey said all of the trees will be preserved and outdoor play areas will be included.

Although it will be fenced in, Denison plans to take advantage of the surrounding lands, including the neighbouring community gardens and Magna Centre.

“That’s what the trend in childcare is right now,” Malecki said. “We want to be outside. We want to be learning and break that mould of ‘learning only happens in a classroom.’ It doesn’t. It happens in that world around us.”

Other parts of the property will include a dedicated building for arts, and a parking lot by the front of the building.

But one piece of the property is set to be demolished. With the town council providing tentative approval this week, a shed on the corner of the property will be torn down due to structural integrity concerns. A staff report said the shed was not listed as a heritage attribute, unlike the farmhouse that will be preserved.

Still, Mosey said the team is working with the town and the heritage committee to ensure the farmhouse on the property is maintained well.

That will include structural work on the interior, construction manager Rick Gay said.

“It’s not in the best condition on the inside, so we’ve got a lot of work to take care of that,” he said. “We’re going to keep it as clean as possible.”

Costs of the build for the non-profit childcare centre have skyrocketed, Mosey said, due to supply issues, but a reserve has been built up over 20 years to address construction costs.

She said the new space is in high demand, with plenty of interested callers and a wait list of more than 200. The new spaces will also lead to the creation of 27 jobs, she added.

The outdoor-focused programming will align well with parents who have sought more time in the open spaces amidst the pandemic, Malecki said.

“It’s going to be a wonderful addition to the community.”