We have all been given the unfortunate news that Waterside will be closing it’s doors for service on May 31 this year. For many this place is a stepping stone, but for myself it has been my career for over 15 years and so I wanted to share some of it’s history with you.
The Association runs several child care settings, an infant development program, adult day homes and residential settings as well as some vocational settings for adult clients with disabilities. Many staff have worked at various settings but I was hired into and remained at Waterside (with exception of 2 mat leaves and one 6 month coverage at another child care centre) since being hired by Leanna Logan in June of 2001. I will always be grateful for being given the opportunity to take care of what was her ‘baby’ when I stepped into the manager role in September of 2009.
Waterside was to be a temporary placement for the Association’s Playhouse centre while transitioning to their new home on Brant Street. But when Playhouse moved, there was still a great need for child care in this community within the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. And so Waterside grew roots and has seen many changes as needs grew and diminished here over the years. In 2001, when I began we were a toddler centre just as we are today. Except the physical space looked very different. The extra playroom off E. Cordova was where the children napped and the back room was used as an office space for our Eastside Infant Development program. In approximately 2003, we opened a 3’s program since finding preschool aged child care in this neighborhood was almost non-existent. We were granted a license to use the front room as a 3-4 year old program allowing families more time to get into the coveted 3-5 daycare spaces nearby. This grew our staff team and put us through a few more physical changes.
Over time, more preschool aged centres began to open in the developing area and our families were able to move on away from us. This meant that the 3’s program we had created was no longer keeping a waitlist and numbers began to stay too low to keep up the expense of the room. We closed that license in June of 2014. And so again, Waterside had some team changes and physical changes to our space. We gained an extra play area for the toddlers and the teaching team gained a staff room! No more eating lunch in the office or off the kitchen island while the toddlers were trying to settle in the nap room. We were able to have a break.
And now we arrive at a final change. Closing doors. Its hard to believe this is where we are. ChoiPing has been here over 20 years and Fiona over 10. Even though Grace, Flora, Yadira & Janet are relatively newbies in comparison, we have all been present, in what some refer to as the most unbearable part of the city, to keep up this gem of a workplace. We have served many wonderful families and cared for some extraordinary children. Each of you have made different impact on our lives and created memories we will always treasure. We hope that our paths may cross again soon & we wish all of you the very best!
Written by Colleen Thomas, Manager of Waterside CDC
If you have concerns about afford child care in the Lower Mainland, please contact your MLA. When enough people care, change happens.