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Many hands help at Children's First Centre
Safety fencing put up over weekend as pilings are scheduled to be installed this week

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, April 5, 2012

INUVIK
After close to 15 years of planning the Children's First Centre, fencing erected around the ground of the construction site on Saturday morning made it a physical reality.

NNSL photo/graphic

Deputy mayor Chris Larocque, left, and Mayor Denny Rodgers attach two pieces of fencing on Saturday morning at the Children's First Centre construction site. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo

A group of 10 volunteers bundled up and made their way to the site behind the Igloo Church early Saturday morning to put up about 75 pieces of fencing to secure the construction site for work, scheduled to start this week.

The majority of the fencing was up in less than two hours, with the metal wiring and steel poles travelling 150 metres by 100 metres around the site. Northern Transportation Company Limited donated 15 orange sea cans to store the insulation on site as well.

"We started laying out the fence to where we were going to put it up, then paired up and started it," said Chris Larocque, Inuvik's deputy mayor.

Helping hands

Parents were on the scene to lend a hand as well.

Ben Burns has two sons, ages eight and three. The three-year-old uses the Inuvik Child Development Centre full time, while the eight-year-old attends in the mornings before school, at lunch and after school. Since the centre is located at the back of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School which will be shut down as of this summer in preparation of the September opening of the super school Burns's two sons, along with more than 50 per cent of preschoolers, currently have no place to go until the Children's First Centre is built.

"I know that they need every arm they can get to put the fence up and to get things rolling to cut costs and it's all volunteering. Wherever they can save money is excellent," said Burns.

He pays $1,300 a month for one full-time child and one part-time child to attend the centre and said any way the Children's First Centre can cut costs through the help of volunteers will help the cost of daycare in the long run.

"Wherever you can cut costs will go across the board where your expenses are decreased and the cost of having kids in the daycare is decreased. It's important to help out wherever you can," he said.

"We definitely need the centre. We've been here for 12 years and I know there's a need for child care here."

Peter Clarkson, who holds a seat on the centre's construction committee, was on site Saturday. He said more material was scheduled to come to town on Sunday. Everyone seems to be giving the centre a helping hand, as E. Gruben's Transport Ltd. was coming back to town with empty trucks and offered to bring up sheeting for a "good deal," according to Clarkson. He said the Children First Society saved upwards of $50,000.

On Monday, piling locations will be surveyed and the 125 pilings were scheduled to start going in the ground this week.

"We had to get the fence up to make it secure and then by April 8 or 9, we should have the tender out for the construction," said Clarkson. "By the end of April, we hope to know who's going to build it and what the cost of the project will be. It's coming along now."

The final construction drawings are expected to be finished this week as well, and construction of the facility will begin in the first half of June. This work is leading up to a tentative January 2013 opening date.

"We need to get up some material before that but we'll have all the pilings in and all the steel on the pilings, then they'll be ready to go," said Clarkson.

The budget for the project is set at $4.5 million. Clarkson said the society still has a million dollars left to fundraise, but seeing the first physical signs of centre will bring about a new wave of excitement to the community.

At a previous council meeting, Clarkson described the building as a "very simple one-storey building" with a sloped roof and straightforward mechanical and electrical design to ensure the ongoing operating costs are as low as possible. He said it is designed to be energy efficient.

The project will provide a permanent home for early childhood education in Inuvik. The Inuvik Child Development Centre, Aboriginal Headstart, Totspot Daycare and Inuvik Preschool will all be housed in the new facility.

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