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Outlook daycare facility set for expansion

The Small Steps Early Learning Centre in Outlook is looking to provide more child spaces.
Guests were on hand, as were a "construction crew" ready to get to work at the Small Steps Early Learning Centre in Outlook. Photo: Derek Ruttle/The Outlook

OUTLOOK - For parents who may have been sitting on a waiting list for child daycare, the recent announcement in Outlook may have been something that they were waiting for.

The Small Steps Early Learning Centre, which started as just an idea in 2012 by a dedicated group of local parents and opened its doors in 2015, has announced its intentions for expansion of the facility, marking the occasion with an official groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, September 6.

The event welcomed Outlook mayor Maureen Weiterman, local MLA Dana Skoropad, Andrei & Jari Warwaruk of River Grove Homes, Kara Gowen of Prairie Centre Credit Union, and representatives of Oxbow Architecture to the daycare for the announcement.

Representing the Small Steps Board of Directors was Ed Spigott, who touched on the popularity of the facility that has grown so much and, in turn, has facilitated the need for the facility itself to grow.

"Fast forward eight years, and Small Steps has been a stopping point and stepping stone for many in the Outlook and surrounding area," said Ed. "It's become so popular that our waiting list has outgrown our available spaces by three times. Unfortunately, there will be many in the community that do not get the chance to attend this wonderful facility, and today is the start of an opportunity to change that. In 2022, Small Steps Early Learning Centre was awarded grant monies from the provincial government to expand from 37 to 90 spaces. While we're thankful for that funding, we still have a long ways to go."

MLA Skoropad spoke to the handful of people who were present for the announcement, noting that while businesses and government talk about growth, it's another thing to see it in action.

"I just want to say on behalf of Premier Scott Moe and the entire government, thank you so much and it's such a pleasure to join you here for this groundbreaking celebration," said Dana. "Oftentimes, I'll talk about growth and the government will talk about growth and what it looks like. It's important to our government and to the province, but it's also kind of abstract, and THIS is tangible. This is exactly what growth looks like and what's happening here today."

While the facility works to acquire more funding needed for the expansion, work is already set to begin courtesy of River Grove.

"ASAP," said Spigott, asked when construction on the work was set to begin. "We're taking down this exterior fence right now, and I think within days, River Grove is going to start taking off the overhang and putting in some temporary doors. Things are going to change here really quick."

Ideally, the work is slated to last into approximately the mid-point of next year.

"The build schedule is around nine months," said Ed. "So we're looking at the beginning of next summer sometime. Pending construction, of course, but that's the schedule right now."

As far as costs go for the project in order to reach what is needed at Small Steps, Spigott says dollar figures can fluctuate given a number of factors, but they're hoping to raise a substantial amount of money.

"They're fluid right now," he said, touching on the costs of the project. "They say that with daycares, the capital expenditure required per space is around $50,000, and we're adding 53 spaces, so that would equate to around $2.6 million. We'll be under that, but it's going to be a sizable chunk of change, for sure."

The daycare's upcoming Halloween party event on October 28 at the Outlook Civic Centre is serving as one key fundraising event, but an online crowdfunding campaign is expected to be up and running very shortly. Spigott also says there may be some naming opportunities in the future for potential donors.

"We're in the midst of kicking off a campaign, and we have our Halloween fundraiser coming up," he said. "There will be some sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, and advertising along the fence. Maybe some naming opportunities in classrooms, and maybe even a naming of the centre. We haven't gone that far down the road, and we're just finalizing the campaign."