The Calgary based Edleun Group, Inc. and CAPREIT are investigating the possibility of locating Edleun operated childcare centres in a selection of Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (CAPREIT) owned properties.
The first two centers are slated for location in Toronto and likely to open later this year.
There is no question that the need for accessible, affordable and available childcare is growing. According to Statistics Canada, there is currently a shortfall of 165,000 childcare spaces, which translates into 1000-1500 new childcare centres. Currently only 20% of families have access to child care facilities that want them.
Furthermore, the percentage of working mothers with children under the age of 15 has absolutely skyrocketed in the last couple of decades from 49% in 1981 to 73% in 2009 Statistics Canada data shows.
Responding to the demand for child care centres Edleun, publicly traded on the TSE, has seen remarkable growth following its inception just over a year ago an half ago. It has quadrupled in size and now boasts a total of 4,641 licensed spaces in 44 Early Learning & Care centres, including centres it owns or intends to acquire, redevelop or build.
“For Edleun, this initiative with CAPREIT enables us to potentially expand our growth, and to do so in prime urban locations where it would otherwise be very challenging to find sites suitable to create an efficient new child care centre,” said Ty Durekas, Edleun’s President and CEO.
Land is hard to come by, Durekas explained, and since retail lease rates are expensive in the city, creating new space through construction or occupying retail space would end up incurring costs that would need to be passed along to parents. Using the existing stock of well-positioned CAPREIT buildings is a “win-win”, he says.
As one of Canada’s largest residential landlords, with over 31,014 residential units across the country, CAPREIT offers Edleun the advantage of locating in the existing stock of older apartment buildings. The older buildings tend to house young families and incorporate amenities like common spaces or pools that are not being used.
Edleun’s plan is to develop unused amenity space that is also located on the ground floor into childcare centres. Locating in existing buildings grants Edleun access to inner city neighbourhoods where there might not otherwise be available locations.
Demographics play a role, especially in the GTA rental market, which houses large numbers of immigrants who have an expressed need for child care- and a lack of available spaces.
There are also no rezoning issues to tackle with repurposing the space in the CAPREIT properties for child care, as child care is a service that is already permissible in a multi-family property environment, according to Edleun.
Tom Schwartz, CAPREIT’s President and CEO, noted, “We are enthusiastic about this potential initiative with Edleun. For CAPREIT, it enables us to enhance the product offering and amenities we offer our tenants while generating revenues from underutilized space within certain of our properties and enhance the value of our properties. We have been impressed with the high quality of Edleun’s child care centres, as well as its programming and child-focused operations.”
At this point, financial model information is not being disclosed, nor has who will be responsible for the build-out been established.