Desperately needed childcare spaces are coming to downtown Kelowna.
ProducKIDvity has leased the entire sixth floor and half of the seventh floor, of the Bernard Block (St. Paul St. and Bernard Ave.) which will provide 110 childcare and co-work spaces over 16,000 square feet.
“It’s definitely the biggest move our company has made,” said founder and CEO Alex Carnio. “We wanted to make sure that we were taking calculated risks on the right project and I really feel this is going to be a game changer for, not only parents in Kelowna but also for our company as we continue to grow.”
A recent report from the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives found major gaps in B.C.’s childcare system.
While Kelowna fares better than cities in the Lower Mainland, with 3.4 spaces for 10 children below school age, the report states even “B.C.’s bigger cities show a greater likelihood of living in a child-care desert than the national average.”
Carnio explained that the spaces at Bernard Block will be mostly for infants and toddlers.
“That’s definitely the most dire childcare situation in Kelowna, three and under. It’s by no means solving the crisis, but every spot counts.”
The sixth floor will be dedicated to childcare spots and classrooms and half of the seventh floor to co-work spaces.
For outdoor time, Carnio added that there is a 3,500 square-foot patio space exclusive to ProducKIDvity.
Childcare will be available Monday to Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A valet drop-off and pick-up service is also being offered.
“We all know downtown parking can be a challenge, so we will have a valet area so parents don’t have to leave their vehicles to bring their kids to daycare,” said Carnio.
ProducKIDvity has signed a 15-year lease with Mission Group and Nicola Wealth for the spaces.
“For parents of young children, driving to a single location where they can drop their child off and head up the elevator to work is a ground-breaking concept,” said Jonathan Friesen, CEO of Mission Group.
Carnio said work on the project began in late 2022 and the conditions were removed this week (May 24). She added it’s been exciting, overwhelming and nerve-wracking.
“We know the demand is there and what we’re doing is so unique compared to any other centre, we’re anticipating being filled before we open. Carnio anticipates a November or December opening.
Applications for childcare and co-work spots are being accepted now. More information can be found on the ProducKIDvity website.
-with files from Wolf Depner-