UVic closes Centre 6, will help relocate children

Campus News
Centre 6 will close in May 2017 after a controversial, year-long saga. Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor
Centre 6 will close in May 2017 after a controversial, year-long saga. Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor

UVic has closed its Centre 6 child care centre and will partner with other child care services in Victoria to provide spaces for the 32 children currently enrolled in the After School Care Program — a program for kids aged six to 12 years old.

This announcement, made in an email from Centre 6 manager Kim Ainsworth to the parents of children in the After School Care on May 26 and published on the UVic website, ends a controversialyear-long saga that had many UVic staff, faculty, and students concerned about the future of the child care program.

Recreation Oak Bay will provide after-school spaces for children enrolled at Campus View Elementary School, and UVic will set up an after school care program in its Family Centre for children attending Frank Hobbs Elementary School, McKenzie Elementary, and École Victor-Brodeur.

The latter program is a temporary one, the email explains, and will only run until June 2018. Its future beyond then will be decided before Feb 1, 2018.

Jonathan Faerber is a former student at UVic and a former parent at Centre 6. The email regarding the centre’s future surprised Faerber, but he says the process leading up to the announcement was anything but unusual.

“It’s just the case again that UVic is coming up with an announcement. They’ve made the decision already [and] there’s nothing much we can say or do other than ask questions,” Faerber says. “For me it’s just again the way it happens — the way it always happens — is it’s top-down decision making about our kids . . . we just really don’t have say in how this is going to work.”

Jim Forbes, the director of campus services at UVic, says consultation with students and staff will happen in the near future.

“What we’re doing right now is transitioning the current care situation so we’ve not lost any spaces,” Forbes says. “So as we move towards the fall we will certainly involve ourselves in obviously some very deep discussions with that community.”

Forbes also believes that the shift will be an easy one to make for previous Centre 6 parents and their children.

“It’s a physical change in location but again I think the same care that parents have expected will remain in place,” Forbes says. “It’s a professional care environment that we’ve developed and nurtured and so I would say that parents are going to see very little differences other than the care setting.”

UVic will add 40 full-time child care spots in place of the After School Care program, whose future has been in doubt since UVic made an announcement in June 2016 that said the program was to close in 2017. After parents at the centre complained about a lack of forewarning, the University reversed their decision and entered a consultation process with the Faculty Association (representing the faculty member parents of Centre 6).

This decision to relocate children into a variety of programs is a result of this process.

Since Faerber has moved his children to a different school (in part due to uncertainty around available child care), he will not be taking the university’s offer of a place at the Recreation Oak Bay. Instead, Faerber hopes to put the whole year behind him.

“I’m pretty sick of this. It’s been a long process. It’s been exhausting and emotionally draining,” Faerber says of the past 12 months. “I’d like to see what was Centre 6 stay around — it was a great program [and] I really wish that UVic would see the value in it and find a way to continue it somehow . . .

“[But] there’s only a month left, and nothing more is going to happen. UVic has made their decision. I give up. I’m putting it behind me, for sure.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is made available.

This story was updated to include quotes from Jim Forbes and Jonathan Faerber. 

A correction was also made in reporting the number of children being relocated from Centre 6 — there were 32 children in Centre 6, not 48. We regret the error.