Two well-established childcare services join forces

Merger ensures continued operation of the Bettye Hyde Cooperative Early Learning Centre on Blackburn Ave.

Two of Ottawa’s oldest childcare providers — Andrew Fleck Children’s Services (AFCS) and Bettye Hyde Cooperative Early Learning Centre (BHCELC) — are joining to allow for the purchase of the historic carriage house property at 43 Blackburn Ave.

The property has been owned by a group of community investors since 2012. “The carriage house project is an example of meaningful city building, the kind needed to make our urban neighbourhoods vibrant, walkable, and livable. We are thrilled that it will remain a childcare space and become more affordable,” said Leanne Moussa who assembled the investors and led the effort to repurpose the residential property. “I hope that those running in the municipal election recognize the herculean effort of neighbours to save a community in the face of zoning, planning, and financial incentives that worked against good development and adaptive re-use.”

Built in the early 1900s by Lt.-Col. James W. Woods, the building originally housed only horses and carriages but was turned into a residence in 1940 by architect Gordon Hughes, before becoming home to noted collectors of Canadiana, John and Betty Ellis in the 1970s.

In 2012, after Betty Ellis’ passing, it was purchased by a group of motivated neighbours, and the house and its grounds were saved from almost certain transformation into a rooming house. The adaptive re-use of this building as a childcare centre was done by Darryl Hood of CSV Architects with Alain Tremblay and the Tremblay brothers as the builders. It was recognized by the City in 2015 as an example of outstanding architectural conservation.

“The Carriage House project seemed destined to succeed from the start, with the school’s founder and namesake, Bettye Hyde, and Betty Ellis, the former owner of the carriage house, having been dear friends,” said Janet Leblanc, Director of Bettye Hyde Early Learning Centre.

“Similarly, as two of the most long-standing not-for-profit childcare providers in the city, the joining of Bettye Hyde Early Learning Centre with Andrew Fleck Children’s Services also makes sense and will allow us to continue to offer quality programming.”

This decision comes at a time when the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Childcare Agreement is coming into effect. Not only will families be able to continue walking or biking to access quality childcare services in their neighbourhood, but it will also ensure affordability for parents.

“As leaders in the childcare community and in early childhood education in Ottawa, Bettye Hyde is a natural fit for Andrew Fleck Children’s Services,” said Kim Hiscott, Executive Director of Andrew Fleck. “We take pride in being innovative, progressive, responsive and — most importantly — committed to excellence in all our programs and services. We look forward to continuing this tradition with the Bettye Hyde program in the Sandy Hill area.”

Editor’s note: Due to the timing of this update, the text above was drawn from the joint press release issued on October 3 by Leanne Moussa, Andrew Fleck Children’s Services, and Bettye Hyde Cooperative Early Learning Centre.