They operated out of a portable at George Pringle Elementary for more than 15 years but plans to turn the site into a new West Kelowna high school have left a long-running French immersion preschool in a lurch.
Le Petit Hibou has found a new home in a portable at Glenrosa Elementary. Now it's facing the prospect of turning away half its families or being denied a new operating license.
“Since our original licensing over 15 years ago, we now have a mandate to have one washroom for every ten children. So we need two washrooms now,” said Kristy Lamont, president of the board of directors for the Le Petit Hibou preschool non-profit society.
She says they currently only have one washroom in the portable at Glenrosa Elementary, and have only ever had one. Up to this point, it has never been an issue.
“We also have access to the washrooms in the elementary school, which are only 60 feet from door to door," adds Lamont.
The preschool has reached out to MLA Ben Stewart for help convincing Interior Health to grant an exemption, allowing it to operate at its full-capacity of 20 students with only one toilet.
“If we do put another washroom into our space, we lose floor space that we need for each child. So, our capacity at that point would also be reduced.”
Lamont points out that would leave ten families scrambling to find child care.
“Obviously, our intention is to open in September.
"Without a license, our families cannot apply for subsidies. As well, with the exemption, we may be able to open with one washroom but I don’t know how long it’s going to take the school district (to build the second bathroom).
“They have a high school to build and Webber Road Elementary School that they’re currently retrofitting to open again."
Lamont says that at least one other preschool in the area is licensed for more than ten students with just one toilet facility, and she’s pleading with Interior Health to reconsider its decision.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking, with the start of the school year just a month away.