July 21, 2014 5:18 pm

Non-profit daycare threatened by higher rents, renovation cost

TORONTO – The North York Little Prints Daycare (NYLPD) has been a home away from home for many parents.

The non-profit daycare has been operating in a commercial building at Yonge Street and York Mills for 20 years. But now that space is being threatened. by a for-profit daycare that wants to move into the space.

NYLPD pays more than $170,000 a year in property taxes, operations and maintenance costs. It’s previous landlord offered the space rent free so the daycare could keep costs low for families.

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But according to the daycare operators, that all changed when a for-profit daycare, Kids & Company, approached the current landlord, Manulife. Kids & Company offered to lease the space and an additional 2,500 sq ft.

“We think a non-profit daycare should be free from profiting and looking at exploiting the space,” said Neil MacCarthy, a volunteer on the daycare’s board of directors.”To sort of, give it to the highest bidder instead of looking at this community partner that’s been here for two decades.”

MacCarthy says Manulife offered them the space but with strings attached.

“They are asking us to take additional space. To expand the daycare and to retrofit that space at our own cost which could be another $250,000. To pay rent, an additional $130,000 on top of the $170,000 we pay each year,” said MacCarthy.

The city of Toronto helped establish NYLPD 20 years ago when it invested $250,000 in a bit to create more non-profit daycare spaces.

“There was upfront costs invested in this daycare to get it up and running,” said City Councillor Jaye Robinson. “There’s been continued investment over the years because 25 per cent of the spots at this daycare are subsidized by the city of Toronto.”

And MacCarthy said  25 per cent of the families who use NYLPD collect some sort of subsidy and would have difficulty paying for daycare at a for-profit company.

“So those families will literally be on the street with no daycare,” he said.

Margaret Udo has been with the daycare since the very beginning and said her mother set up the daycare first in their home.

“We have families here that don’t have anyone else in Canada,”said Udo. “You hear that we’re the only people they have a connection to. And to hear that connection may be severed, it’s difficult.”

Some of the parents say they are aware of nightmare waiting lists involved with getting kids into Toronto-area daycares.

“if this daycare closes, I will be in quite a bind.” said Michelle Gledhill. “I have two children that need care and the wait list especially for toddlers is more than a year.” she said.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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