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Beloved Norgate daycare razed by fire

A father and daughter, Norgate residents Darcy and Fred Patterson, survey the destruction three days after a fire razed Darcy
A father and daughter, Norgate residents Darcy and Fred Patterson, survey the destruction three days after a fire razed Darcy's childhood daycare.
— image credit: Maria Spitale-Leisk photo

The operator of a Norgate daycare centre destroyed by a massive fire early Saturday morning is vowing to rebuild.

Lisa Hubbard, executive director of the North Shore Neighbourhood House, which runs the Novaco childcare centre, was woken up at 4 a.m. Saturday to news the beloved daycare was engulfed in flames.

She rushed to the scene at 1370 Redwood St., which is adjacent to Norgate elementary.

"When I got the call, I didn't know the extent [of the damage] until I actually came down to the daycare. It was shocking, devastating," describes Hubbard.

All that remains today is the charred hull of three or four modular trailers that housed the daycare. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

Hubbard stressed, while devastating for Novaco's stakeholders — the staff and families who rely on the centre  — the most important thing is that no one was hurt.

Approximately 32 children, ranging in age from infant to four years old, attend the daycare, which has a 30-plus year history in the Norgate community. Hubbard explained, NSNH took over Novaco's business licence from a parent-run society approximately six years ago.

"It's a great neighbourhood, a strong community and there's a need for childcare," said Hubbard.

The roar of multiple fire truck sirens jolted Norgate residents Darcy Patterson and her dad Fred from their sleep Saturday morning. When they went to investigate an hour later, Darcy stood on the damp sidewalk and watched in horror as her childhood daycare burned to ashes.

Back at the scene late Monday afternoon, Darcy, 26, tells The Outlook this daycare was where she first met her lifelong best friend Jessica when they were babies. They later attended Norgate elementary together.

"I remember we would play under cover here after school," recalls Jessica, pointing through a blue security fence to some pavement protected by a now-charred overhang.

For Fred and his wife, who both worked full-time, Novaco offered them convenient and quality childcare.

"In my mind, I didn't know why they didn't have daycares on all school grounds," says Fred.

According to Hubbard, NSNH is the largest childcare provider on the North Shore. She says the families the non-profit organization supports come from diverse financial backgrounds.

As of Monday morning, the displaced children have been integrated into other daycare programs offered by NSNH inside Norgate school and at Sutherland secondary.

"The kids did very well with the transition," said Hubbard.

Meanwhile, NSNH will now work with the North Vancouver School District and the District of North Vancouver, as it looks to rebuild the daycare centre. Financial donations for the project can be made at www.nsnh.bc.ca.

mspitale@northshoreoutlook.com
twitter.com/MariaSpitale

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