Apex play group gets limited free hours at centre: Iqaluit city council
"It’s unfortunate that it came to this"
Members of the Parents and Tots Association may not end up using the City of Iqaluit ‘s donated space at the Abe Okpik Community Centre in Apex as much as they’d like.
At a city council meeting Oct. 9, councillors voted to give the association four more hours a week, denying its request for more, with two councillors voting against the motion.
“It’s unfortunate that it came to this,” Coun. Stephen Mansell said, saying he believes the play group provides good service to the community.
“I’m getting a sense from council that the full request might be too much,” he said. “I think it’s a good program, and it helps kids and we should do something.”
The drop-in play group now provides free snacks, with crafts activities, from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
That’s nine hours a week of operation for the association, which was formally incorporated as a non-profit society in 2002 to support early childhood development.
The group wanted to add more hours in the afternoons, using the space Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m.
Coun. Mat Knicklebein agreed that the play group is a good service. However, Knicklebein also said the city has been trying to get out of the free services it has provided to some groups.
“There’s probably 20-odd sports teams. It’s all worthwhile, it’s all great, but I’d hate to be in a position of picking and choosing — we’ve gotten out of the business of picking and choosing,” he said.
Councillor Mary Wilman said one option is to ask the parents of the children using the play group to help pay for the additional hours.
President Sarah Price told council the group is grateful for the free space so far and said that Parents and Tots could not have existed without it. But she said members of Parents and Tots cannot afford to pay.
If the organization’s preferred time slots conflicted with another paying organization’s time slots, Parents and Tots would be happy to “move it to a different time, no problem,” she said.
About 20 children every Monday, Wednesday and Friday attend the play group, but those numbers have increased since the group introduced new programs, and there are about 50 families who use the play group.
In the summer, Parents and Tots would “take whatever hours” they can get because of city programs that run at Abe Okpik during the summer months.
Money for Parents and Tots comes from the Healthy Children’s Initiative, administered by the Government of Nunavut, Brighter Futures — a federal program administered by the City of Iqaluit — the Embrace Life Council, and through the association’s own fundraising efforts.
Taxi vouchers are available for parents who want to attend the play group’s activities.