VANCOUVER -- Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has announced that all city-run spring break day camps and two daycares located inside civic facilities will be shut down as of March 23.

There were 11 kids enrolled at the two daycares, but the larger impact is the 56 day camps that are now cancelled. Likely hundreds of families are now scrambling to find alternate arragements for child care next week.

McCallum made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday where he delivered an update on the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Starting Monday, daycares will also be shut down to the public in order to prioritize space for health workers, first responders and essential service workers," the mayor said.

The City of Surrey didn’t provide the number of spaces this closure will open up for these frontline workers, or how many kids were registered in camps.

The City of Surrey issued a clarification after the news conference to confirm that the daycare closures would only apply to two centres that are in civic facilities. They are located at city hall and the Kensington Prairie Community Centre.

The tight deadline for closure of the camps and daycares, took some parents by surprise, thought most said they’d expected it could happen given other provinces had taken this same action.

“Finding childcare these days is very difficult,” Brenda Aregay told CTV News at Bear Creek Park, “I just can’t imagine the impact on parents.”

This announcement comes just days after the province announced all schools would be closed indefinitely after spring break to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kristen Billing who works with cancer patients is hopeful she’ll qualify for the new daycare spots. While her 11-year-old daughter is registered in a private daycare, and it’s still open, that may not last.

“I don’t really know what else we’re going to do if there’s no day care options,” she said.  

McCallum thanked people working on behalf of the community like emergency responders, transit operators, and grocery store clerks.

He also assured people that while changes have been made to ensure the safety of municipal workers, the city is still functioning.

"I want to stress, while you might see a change in how business is conducted at city hall, the business of the city has not stopped," he said.

The mayor also said that all fire halls in Surrey are operating at full strength and contingency plans are in place to ensure the city's fire service can respond to emergencies effectively.


The City of Surrey issued a clarification that only two daycares run inside civic facilities would be closed as of March 23.