A monumental amount of funding was presented to the Oakville Community Centre/Daycare project this past Friday. Over $2-million took the project just shy of their overall funding goal for the first day care facility to grace the community. 

The community-based capital project received $1.02-million from Canada-Manitoba Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. Another unexpected and overwhelming donation came from an anonymous donor of $1-million, bringing Friday's announcement a total of $2.02-million. It absolutely impacted the community, keeping in mind that Oakville has the lowest number of licenced child-care spaces in Manitoba.

The daycare is the first of its kind in Oakville and this money will see construction begin next year.

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning Wayne Ewasko says their initial plans were to announce much less.

"Initially, we were doing 40 per cent of capital costs toward the construction of childcare spaces," says Ewasko. "Just recently, through cabinet and the good graces of our premier, and also working with the Federal Minister Karina Gould, we were able to bump that up to 60 per cent. So, it just brings us to $1.02 million."

Ewasko notes it's a tremendous feeling for him to have been in Oakville as Portage MLA Ian Wishart and project president Eric DeLong spoke about unity, volunteers and the countless hours that have gone into this project.

Reeve Kam Blight, Eric DeLong, MLA Ian Wishart, MLA Wayne Ewasko, Dennis Galbraith, and community members as part of the effortReeve RM of Portage - Kam Blight
Community Club President - Eric DeLong
MLA - Ian Wishart, Portage la Prairie
Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning - Honorable Wayne Ewasko
Past President, grant writing and building liaison - Dennis Galbraith
Community Club Treasurer - Daniel Tully
Fundraising & Event Committee - Erin Galbraith
Daycare Board Chairperson and Fundraising & Event Committee - Grace DeLong
Fundraising & Event Committee - Karen Olafson

"I'm from a small town in rural Manitoba and I know how volunteers and community are just a backbone of absolutely everything we do in a small community to keep it rolling," says Ewasko. "This is just a great example of, not only the community members and volunteers, but also this anonymous donor. I think, as Eric mentioned, once the community sees that this is an actual project that's moving forward, viable, and it's real, more and more donations will roll in."

He says he extends his thanks to Oakville for putting all the time and effort into this announcement, adding it's great to be a part of it. 

Portage MLA Ian Wishart adds it feels really good and notes congratulations need to go out to the committee and the committee for pulling together to get behind the project.

"There was never any doubt in my mind that Oakville would get it done and this just helped put it over the the end," continues Wishart. "Thank you very much Minister Ewasko for the great contribution. We value as a government childcare in this province and we're pleased to be part of this. It's a really good example of all levels of government working well together."

Wishart says he's never seen a million-dollar donation come in for a project like this.  

"It's fantastic to have that sort of support from your community," adds Wishart. 

Oakville Community Club President Eric DeLong says the total amount of funding was unbelievable. 

"I mean, you look at the project size; that's a massive portion of the funding that we need," says DeLong. "When this got started a number of years ago, we kind of knew in the back of our minds that there were going to be some opportunities. Personally, I didn't think we were going to see anything quite that substantial. It's just amazing."

DeLong explains their current total is very, very close to the project amounts they require.

"Now our goal is to just try and continue fundraising to finish up some of the finishing touches on the property that are going to just really set it off in the right way, and ensure that it's energy-efficient and able to host some really nice functions for people," continues DeLong. "With the fall coming up here, I think it's a little too late to get construction started this fall, so our plan would be to get the project tendered and get construction started first thing in the spring. Depending on how long construction takes, we do plan to be operational in 2023. I would estimate probably toward the tail end of 2023. A comment was made about summer of 2023. That may be a little bit optimistic, but next year would definitely be the goal."

He notes they're currently at $3.5 million altogether.

"Part of that's a little bit of a contingency fund, too, because a lot of projects tend to go over budget when you start getting shovels in the ground," adds DeLong. "3.5 is our total right now. Then we're hoping to get fund raising for a little bit more to be able to just finish it off."

RM of Portage la Prairie Reeve Kam Blight adds his amazement over the news.

"It's absolutely incredible," says Blight. "I feel just absolutely ecstatic and overwhelmed over the investments that the provincial and federal governments are making into the Oakville community. I feel very grateful and thankful for all those individuals who have worked so hard for so long to make this a reality. This has to be such a rewarding day for them. They've done such an absolutely incredible job. Truly, they are the backbone of this community. Volunteers like them has built this community and it's what keeps this community going. We're so blessed here in Oakville to have so many great individuals such as the group that's been working on this project."

He adds the number of people who stepped forward and brought private donations, as well, is absolutely incredible. 

"I feel so very blessed and proud to be from the community of Oakville and the RM of Portage Prairie because this is truly what our community and our municipality is all about," says Blight. "This is just such an amazing day for the RM and the community of Oakville."