Licensed preschool at community centres

From parking to play: new childcare centres set to open atop underutilized Gastown parkades

New facilities will provide 74 spaces, a third of which will be free for low-income families

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.

Kim Adamson, general manager of Child Care Development for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver

May 18 2021 –

We are thrilled to announce two new childcare facilities, first of their kind in Canada, will open in Gastown and provide 74 much-needed spaces for Vancouver families.

Twenty-four of the available spaces at Water View and Portside childcare centres will be accessible at no cost to low income area families. The BC Affordable Childcare Benefit, an annual $60,000 City grant, and a contribution from the YMCA will cover all costs for these families. 

The centres are designed to achieve Passive House Standard Certification and LEED Gold certification and to be net zero energy buildings with low carbon systems.

These are the first childcare facilities in Canada to be located atop a parkade, representing an innovative solution to underutilized space and the lack of space for childcare in Vancouver’s downtown core. This creative model is part of our broader commitment to increasing childcare supply by reimaging how city space can be used. Other examples of this approach include a pilot project for outdoor-based child care and the co-location of new childcare centres within schools.

The two single-storey centres will be operated by the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and feature a total of approximately 10,000 square feet of indoor space and 11,000 square feet of outdoor space that is surrounded by breathtaking views of the North Shore and Burrard Inlet.

The project cost of $17 million was funded by a $1 million major capital grant from the provincial government and the Union of BC Municipalities, and $16 million through Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), which are in-kind or cash contributions provided by property developers when City Council grants development rights through rezoning. CACs play an important role in the delivery of public amenities and infrastructure, such as childcare, parks, cultural facilities, affordable housing, and community facilities.

Taking learning outside

Launching this spring and operated by the YMCA, a new city-facilitated outdoor-based school age childcare pilot project in Kerrisdale will provide children with invaluable opportunities to spend more time outdoors learning from nature. This program is the first licensed outdoor-based school age care program in Vancouver, and it will create unique opportunities for children who live in the city to build a relationship with the land that evolves and deepens over time. 

The project will include daily after school programming outside on school grounds and in the beautifully forested Malkin Park located next door to the school. Children will have access to the school’s washrooms and indoor space will be available for incidents of extreme weather.

​​​​Almost 1,500 new spaces created in the last three years

We have 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, we have secured more than 470 new childcare spaces, of which 344 are now operational.

Childcare is an important part of our Healthy City Strategy which calls on partners, in particular senior governments, to help create a city where everyone can thrive.  


Mayor Kennedy Stewart

“We are proud to have created the opportunity for 74 children to be able to play and learn in this creative use of space that is close to their homes,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “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.”

Kim Adamson, general manager of Child Care Development for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver

“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,” says Kim Adamson, General Manager, Child Care Development. “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."

Peter, a YMCA child care parent

"Having access to affordable child care has changed the shape of our family's financial situation,” says Peter, a YMCA child care parent. “We have had the privilege of attending a centre that participates in the child care prototype program. Having the burden of fees lessened has made an indescribable impact for us during the stress of the pandemic. That, paired with the exceptional care that the program provides for our children, has brought us incredible peace of mind."

Katrina Chen, minister of state for Child Care

“Community partnerships are critical to creating quality, affordable child care spaces that meet the unique needs of local families,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By working with the City of Vancouver to repurpose what was previously unusable space into a first-of-its-kind child care centre, we’re making child care more accessible for families who live or work in Vancouver’s downtown core.”