The Ancaster Memorial Arts Center has had at least one problem that officials are struggling to overcome.
The new facility has attracted overwhelming demand from community groups to use the amenity spaces, but the center is unable to meet all of the demands.
That’s what happened to the EarlyOn Child and Family Center program, currently located at Marshall Memorial Church on Fiddler’s Green Road.
Prior to the construction of the arts center, it was expected that the daycare would be able to operate in one of the seven former elementary school classrooms that have been renovated in the center. About $500,000 had also been donated to the construction of the arts center from its early childhood reserve account.
But Ancaster County. Lloyd Ferguson said “overwhelming” demand for community group classrooms has forced center officials to reduce “significant” space for several groups, including EarlyOn Child and Family Centre, prompting the city to seek a alternative space.
Ferguson said the center could move to Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum at 64 Sulfur Springs Rd. as an alternative venue to the arts center.
Councilors at their August 12 meeting approved Ferguson’s motion for the city to use the $200,000 to rehabilitate Fieldcote for the family center.
The Family Center offers free, high quality programs for families and children from prenatal to age six. The programs are supervised by the city. Parents can learn and play with their children while receiving free childcare information from professionals, said Brenda Ferguson, executive director of Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care.
The arts center, Ferguson said, is nearing completion, with a grand opening scheduled for September. He said there should be a capital budget surplus due to the planned sale of the Carluke Community Center. The center is offering $200,000 in rent for the renovation of Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum to house the daycare, said Aisling Higgins, senior communications officer in the city manager’s office.
“That’s good news,” Ferguson said. “We were able to find a better place in Fieldcote (for the childcare program).”
He said Fieldcote has about eight acres of land that will be attractive to children in the family program.
“It will be exciting for the family center to use the museum,” Ferguson said.
Higgins said there was “no definitive timetable” for the family center to move to Fieldcote.