BHPS update

We’re writing to provide an update on the status of our relocation project, and to update you on the future of the preschool.

As we’ve communicated in the past, the lease for the Blackburn Hamlet Preschool ends on June 30, 2017. The city has issued its third and final notice, and there will be no additional extensions. While BHPS’s board and the members of its location committee have worked extremely hard over the past eighteen months to secure a future for the school, we regret to inform our members and our supporters that after the end of this school year, Blackburn Hamlet Preschool will cease operations. Please note that programming for the remainder of our current school year will not be impacted.

We’re writing to provide an update on the status of our relocation project, and to update you on the future of the preschool.

As we’ve communicated in the past, the lease for the Blackburn Hamlet Preschool ends on June 30, 2017. The city has issued its third and final notice, and there will be no additional extensions. While BHPS’s board and the members of its location committee have worked extremely hard over the past eighteen months to secure a future for the school, we regret to inform our members and our supporters that after the end of this school year, Blackburn Hamlet Preschool will cease operations. Please note that programming for the remainder of our current school year will not be impacted.

From the start, the school’s continuance has been met with two significant obstacles. The first involved the funds needed for relocation. Community support for our campaign was strong and encouraging, and we are forever grateful for your generosity. However, we were unable to raise the entire $75K required as a down payment in order to secure further financing for the Green's Creek Education Centre. Further, we were not successful with any of the numerous grants for which we applied.

More worrying is the second obstacle: the ever-shifting regulatory environment within which the preschool operates. In the 18 months since our lease extension, new or shifting regulatory requirements – some of which were communicated with little advanced notice - have required unexpected and costly changes to our programming. These include shifting toddler ratio requirements and new, restrictive rules for helping parents. Further still, additional and as-yet-unclear requirements for child care centres have been announced by the province. These would significantly change the definition of each of the age groups we currently serve, necessitating huge changes to our programming at the very moment we are hoping to scale it up.

Bearing these challenges in mind, there’s consensus among all involved that it is simply not prudent for a volunteer-led, cooperative organization to undertake such a costly and significant project with insufficient reserve funds, limited capacity to carry financing, and with complete regulatory uncertainty ahead. This is a tremendously sad outcome for us, and something we’ve worked extremely hard to prevent, but at this junction closing the school is the right decision to make.

All of our members and all of the donors to the Blackburn Hamlet Preschool Fund have already been notified, and now we’re sharing this information with the community.

Funds Raised via the Blackburn Hamlet Preschool Fund

While the funds raised through the capital campaign will not be put towards the Learning Centre as planned, our intention is for the money to still be used on educational and community-based projects. To this end, the BHPS Board of Directors has decided to divert the money in the fund to Just Food, due to various projects currently underway there that are very much aligned with our priorities. First, Just Food has confirmed a project to renovate the large barn at the Just Food Farm into usable, three-season community space, which will be available to book for meetings and programs.  This work will be completed in October 2017. Second, Just Food currently supports children's programming on site for a range of ages – including pre-school – and the organization and its partners have concrete plans to expand.  Just Food partners with Earth Path, The Wild Garden, and Nature Connections: organizations offering programming for 3.5-5 year olds, as well as 6-11 year olds. Just Food subsidizes the space for all these programs, and also welcomes partnership with groups interested in conducting children’s programming on site, including the homeschooling community, Guides, Scouts, and others.

Blackburn Hamlet Preschool Fund donors wishing to direct their donation to an alternate Canadian charitable organization can do so by contacting capitalcampaign@bhps.ca, and providing the full name of their organization of choice. These funds – minus the administrative fee – with then be redirected accordingly by the Community Foundation of Ottawa.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation,

The BHPS Board of Directors


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