the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Whispers from the Westside: empty preschools


I’m toying with an idea for a new series on here…one that exposes the effect of real estate speculation on Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.  Namely the Westside, where property prices have increased so dramatically, that most people are completely priced out of the area.  As someone who grew up in Dunbar, which during my childhood was a quite idyllic (lots of kids playing in the parks, people shopping and eating in local establishments, neighbours getting together for block parties), I am consistently taken aback by how much things have changed.

When my daughter was three, I sent her to a little preschool at the Community Center near my childhood home.  As I was going back to work full-time, my parents were helping to care for her and the preschool was right across the street from her house.  At the time, preschools on the westside were SO difficult to get into.  There were overnight line ups outside for registration, for goodness sakes.  Luckily, we got in and it was a great experience.

Fast forward to yesterday when a friend of mine called to tell me that her friend is having a really hard time finding a preschool for her child on the Westside.  Not because of long waiting lists, but because preschools are closing down due to lack of enrollment.  Her explanation was that because of the decline in the amount of children residing in the neighbourhoods, preschools are being forced to shut their doors as they cannot afford to stay open!!

So…is there any truth to this?  You tell me.  Is this Whisper from the Westside fact or fiction?


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7 thoughts on “Whispers from the Westside: empty preschools

  1. Sharon Gregson on said:

    Are part-day preschools empty because there are not enough children to fill them, or is it that working parents really need full day care instead?

    • TheThirtiesGrind on said:

      Good question. When my daughter was in preschool in Dunbar, there was a mix of stay at home parents and working parents who also had nannies.

  2. Angie on said:

    My son goes to a great preschool in Kerrisdale and it is about 90% full, so healthy enrolment. However, it apparently used to have long wait lists and be 100% full. There is less certainty in enrolment each year now, but the school is not empty.

  3. Anothereastvanmama on said:

    These days parents do camp out overnight to get their kids a spot in preschool at Trout Lake Community Centre. Two of my friends (both of whom live in opposite ends of cedar cottage) had no other option but to drive their kids across town for the only spots they could get find — in Kits. My own child’s cedar cottage preschool is fully enrolled now and for September, with a wait list. Take a walk around out neighbourhood and it seems like every other house now has a stroller on the porch.

  4. Anothereastvanmama on said:

    Oh! And at my child’s cedar cottage preschool, every parent I can think of works (this is still Vancouver!). Most juggle drop offs and pick ups with a mix of both parents having a semi-flexible work schedule or contract work. Others have family members, nannies, or childcare swap situations helping with childcare arrangements. Oh and a few of the parents are on maternity leave as well. Everyone works around here these days.

  5. Hi! I’m the president of Dunbar Memorial Preschool located in Dunbar Community Centre. We, like many other preschools on the westside, have seen a significant decline in enrolment in the last 5 years. We’ve responded by changing our hours, structure, and class offerings based on feedback from parents – and it’s working well. Crown and Tom Thumb Preschools, who are located a few blocks away, have also made changes based on the needs of their families.

    I think there are many factors for the enrolment decline in traditional, non-profit, neighbourhood preschools, including:
    -two parent working families for whom the 2.5-3 hr preschool day just doesn’t work for them – they need full time daycare
    -the change of kindergarten from half-day to full-day has also made a significant impact; some families want a longer day for their preschooler in preparation for kindergarten (ie. wanting their 4 yr old to eat lunch at preschool)
    -an increase in demand for preschools that offer a more academic curriculum in comparison to play-based or child-centred preschools
    -an increase in private, for profit, preschools and other organizations that offer specialized programming and/or the more academic curriculum that some families want

    Essentially, I think there are a lot more choices of preschools, programs and activities you can sign your 3-5 yr old up for. I am sure there’s also been a decline in children in westside neighbourhoods, which is affecting preschool enrolment, but it’s not the only factor.

    I will throw in a plug for Dunbar Memorial Preschool, and other neighbourhood preschools – they are a great way to really feel like part of your community! Our families often eat lunch together after preschool in the community centre lobby, go to Dunbar Memorial Park together, plan whole school playdates on non-preschool days, etc. We’re a close-knit group and many parents remain close friends long after their children graduate out of preschool!

  6. Pingback: Whispers from the Westside: getting the hell out - the thirties grind

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