$17 million YMCA childcare centre opens atop Gastown parkade (PHOTOS)

May 18 2021, 3:48 pm

With a construction cost of about $260,000 per child space, a unique major childcare centre atop the rooftops of a city-owned parkade in Gastown is one of the most expensive publicly funded childcare facilities in Vancouver to date.

The municipal government announced today construction has reached completion on two single-storey childcare facilities on the rooftops of the Gastown parkade at 150 Water Street and 151 West Cordova Street, named Waterview and Portside, respectively.

Both facilities, connected by a pedestrian bridge over a laneway, occupy under half of the footprint of the top level of the parkade’s north and south wings.

They feature a combined total floor area of about 10,000 sq ft of indoor space and 11,000 sq ft of outdoor space, with panoramic views of the harbour and mountains.

The total capacity of both the north and south facilities is 74 young children, with each wing holding 37.

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

YMCA of Greater Vancouver will operate the entire rooftop childcare complex. At least 24 of the childcare spaces will be provided for free to low-income families in the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona neighbourhoods. These free spaces are being funded by the provincial government, a contribution from YMCA, and an annual $60,000 city grant.

“The YMCA of Greater Vancouver is grateful to be continuing its partnership with the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC to bring valuable child care services to more deserving families,” said Kim Adamson, general manager of child care development for YMCA, in a statement.

“Quality child care requires passionate educators for every child, and we will certainly have that at Water View YMCA Child Care and Portside YMCA Child Care. We can’t wait to welcome new families to these two first-class facilities, and provide their children with the opportunity to connect with others, learn, and develop the skills needed to become confident kids today and contributing, engaged adults in the future.”

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

The project — designed by Acton Ostry Architects and Heatherbrae Builders Co. Ltd — carried a construction cost of $17 million.

This was covered by $1 million from the provincial government and Union of BC Municipalities, and $16 million from the municipal government’s community amenity contributions collected from developers in exchange for the approval of their rezoning applications for redevelopments.

The construction costs were higher than a conventional project as it involved modifying existing structures, including adding two dedicated childcare entrances with elevators and a staircase — one entrance on Water Street, and the other on Cordova Street.

As well, the city pursued the green building certification standards of Passive House and LEED Gold, with a net zero energy and low carbon systems design. A rooftop solar panel system is one of the green design features.

Construction on the rooftop complex first began in late 2019.

“The location of the new facilities on the roof of the existing parkades is a unique approach to adding new childcare buildings to the downtown core and, in addition, has allowed us to offer no cost childcare solutions to families in Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside who would otherwise not be able to afford childcare,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement.

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

Cross-section artistic rendering of the Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (Acton Ostry Architects)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

Artistic rendering of the Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (Acton Ostry Architects)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

Artistic rendering of the Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (Acton Ostry Architects)

The city previously evaluated eight city-owned parkade sites for potential rooftop childcare facilities, but only two sites in Gastown were identified as suitable.

The parkade, constructed by the city at a cost of $28 million and designed by Henriquez Partners Architects, opened in 2004 and initially included Storyeum within its basement – a $22 million live-action show attraction that told the story of BC’s history. But the attraction closed just over two years later due to its financial losses.

After years of vacancy, Storyeum’s former 70,000 sq ft space was later converted into a satellite campus for the Vancouver Film School. The parkade also has retail space on its ground level.

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

The completed Portside and Waterview childcare facilities at the Gastown parkade. (City of Vancouver)

According to the city, the childcare shortfall of 1,411 spaces across the city has been reduced since 2018, and the number of families whose childcare needs are being met has increased from 36% to 41% over the last few years.

With new childcare funding from the provincial government, the municipal government has approved 470 new childcare spaces, of which 344 are now operational.

The City has reduced the childcare shortfall by 1,411 spaces city-wide since 2018, and has increased the number of families whose childcare needs are being met by 5%, from 36% to 41% across Vancouver in the same time period. Since 2019, the City has secured more than 470 new childcare spaces, of which 344 are now operational.

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

Exterior of Gastown parkade at 150 Water Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

ymca gastown parkade childcare portside waterview

Exterior of Gastown parkade at 151 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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