Quality Child Care

Investing in quality childcare

Quality, accessible and affordable child care is vital to a healthy community and prosperous economy.

All levels of government, community service agencies, families, and businesses have a shared interest in supporting child development and child care services. Ensuring quality care provides significant social and economic benefits: it reduces developmental vulnerabilities and improves school readiness, reduces social isolation, especially among single parents or caregivers, and supports business attraction and recruitment, retaining employees and developing a skilled workforce.

Local child care is in-demand

In 2019, the District completed a Child Care Needs Assessment which concluded that there is a significant need throughout Squamish for additional child care services.

Findings revealed that there was an estimated 3,894 children aged 0-12 living in Squamish and while only 817 licensed child care spaces, for an overall access rate of 21%. 

Following this assessment the District developed a Squamish Child Care Action Plan to address child care needs moving forward.  

2019 child care snapshot

In 2019, Capilano University began offering courses at Capilano’s Squamish campus towards the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) certificate or diploma programs offered through the School of Education and Childhood Studies. ECCE courses provide students with the competencies and knowledge required to work with children under the age of five in licensed preschools and child care centres. Find out more about this program and more by visiting CapU's Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Program

Establishing a child care facility in Squamish?

We've compiled a list of considerations to help you on your way. Find regulatory and development considerations below or read our handy Squamish Child Care Facility Requirement Guide below.

Provincial child care regulations and licensing

A community care facilities licence is required for all programs and facilities providing care to three or more children who are not related to the operator by blood or marriage. All facilities must be in compliance with the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Residential Care Regulations and the Child Care Licensing Regulations.

Licensed child care programs are monitored and regularly inspected by the regional health authority, Vancouver Coastal Health, to ensure facilities meet specific requirements for health and safety, staffing qualifications, record keeping, space and equipment, child-to-staff ratios, and programming. Helpful Vancouver Coastal Health licensing links and child care resources are below:

Municipal zoning and building requirements

The District of Squamish Zoning Bylaw 2200, 2011 regulates zoning child care facilities, including permissible locations, maximum number of children and parking requirements. Child care facilities must comply with all zoning requirements, as well as building and fire code.

Child care facilities are permitted in most zones within the Municipality, including multi-residential zones, local/neighbourhood commercial, mixed-use areas and many comprehensive development zones.

In-home child care facilities are defined as CHILD CARE FACILITY, RESIDENTIAL, permitting the use of a dwelling unit for the care of not more than 16 children where licensed according to the Child Care Licensing Regulation under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. In-home child care is considered a Home Occupation, and may be located in single detached dwelling, a multi-unit dwelling as permitted in the bylaw, or in a Secondary Suite provided that there will only be one such use per property.

Note that if you wish to care for more than 8 children, you will be required to make significant upgrades to your existing home to meet Building and Fire Code. A child care facility (>8 children) is classified as an A-2 assembly occupancy. With building reclassification for assembly occupancy, typical upgrades include installation of sprinkler and fire alarm systems, adding a firewall, and enhancing fire separations and fire ratings of exists, floor and roof assemblies. It is recommended that existing or future child care providers review all bylaw requirements and engage professional assistance (registered architect or professional engineer) as early as possible for BC Building Code and fire code requirements for improvements that require a building permit application with scaled architectural drawings.

District of Squamish business licensing requirements

A valid business licence is required for child care operators conducting business within the District of Squamish. To apply for a business license, you can access forms and fees here. Note that in 2018, the District reduced the annual business license fee for a child care facility to $1.00.

For residential child care facilities with more than 8 children, licensees are required to notify neighbours, within 100 metres of the property, of facility operating hours and submit a traffic management plan depicting existing and proposed off-street and on-street parking availability, access and egress from the site, and a strategy for reducing the impact the additional traffic may have on the neighbourhood. (Business License Bylaw No. 2455)

Search the Squamish map of licensed child care providers in your neighbourhood (note: this is a list of businesses currently licensed by the District of Squamish).

Child care amenities in land development

Through the land development process, the District also plays a role in facilitating the creation of infrastructure over and above basic services that are levied through development cost charges. Community amenity contributions (CACs) are intended to address the additional demands that result from new development proposals. Financial tools and mechanisms are used to leverage facilities and land as the District negotiates CACs as part of applications for rezoning and OCP amendments to ensure “growth pays for growth.

The District of Squamish Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) Policy outlines the District’s expectations of developers' contributions that are negotiated as part of amendments proposed to the Zoning Bylaw or Official Community Plan by developers. The CAC policy is focused on affordable housing contributions along with park and active transportation amenities and, in some limited cases, cash contributions toward affordable housing and critical facilities. Creation and integration of childcare spaces and services may be considered as otherwise directed by Council.

We’re here to help.

Get in touch with us for any questions about starting, growing, or investing in Squamish today.