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11th hour deal keeps Sandy Hill Child Care Centre operating months after fire

The Sandy Hill Child Care Centre has an extra two weeks to get its new home up to code months after a fire.

A fire damaged the childcare centre on Wilbrod Street just days after Christmas. No one was hurt. The daycare moved into St. Paul's Eastern United Church on Cumberland Street during repairs, but it was later learned that the building on Wilbrod Street would need to be demolished.

During a temporary relocation, the Ministry of Education waives certain licensing requirements, but when it became apparent that the Wilbrod Street location could no longer be used, the daycare applied for a licence at the temporary location on Cumberland Street. However, the St. Paul's location was not up to ministry standards for a daycare.

The Sandy Hill Child Care Centre then identified a new location on Myrand Avenue and informed the Ministry of Education in April. The Myrand Avenue site will also need some renovations to get it up to code, so the daycare applied for a six-week extension to its 10-week temporary relocation allowance, which the ministry granted.

That extension was due to expire on Monday, but Sandy Hill needed more time. In a post on its Facebook page last week, the Sandy Hill Child Care Centre said it was initially denied an extension.

"It is critical that we remain open to support the 31 families we currently have enrolled," the post said, urging families to write to the ministry in support.

The director of the Sandy Hill Child Care Centre declined an on-camera interview with CTV News Ottawa.

Coun. Stéphanie Plante said it has been a stressful time for families and the daycare.

"Everybody was really happy with the new location; however, this is not a good permanent location," said Plante. "There was some concern over the bathroom because, obviously, this building is older… and the bathroom isn’t up to code to the daycares that are opening up today, but what we wanted to emphasize to the ministry is that these are kids. A lot of them are in diapers."

St. Paul's Eastern United Church was built in the late 1880s. The congregation disbanded in 2021.

Ottawa-Vanier MPP Lucille Collard also became involved in helping the daycare stay open.

"The red tape was probably some misunderstanding. This is a unique circumstance. The only compliance is there may not be a sufficient amount of bathrooms to comply with the building code for the childcare for the number of kids that they have," Collard said. "It’s a bit unfortunate that it took two elected officials to intervene and for the Ministry of Education to be called upon."

On Monday afternoon, the ministry confirmed to CTV News that a two-week extension has been granted, giving the Sandy Hill Child Care Centre until June 12 to get the new site ready. It has until June 8 to apply for a licence to operate at the church if the new site cannot be prepared in time.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy. Top Stories

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