GUELPH -- For more than a decade, the Guelph Community Health Centre has offered a playtime program for families, but those eight program locations are now set to close.

The funds are being reallocated to a different initiative at the health centre, leaving some families feeling like they won't be able to replace them.

"It's incredible because it's the first place you build your village," explains Teresa Oussoren, who says she's been using the programs weekly for years.

She and fellow mom Rachel Dales say the announcement comes as a surprise.

"There was really just a letter dropped to us and this is the decision that's made and it's in stone and I'm not budging on it, but somebody else can take it on if they want," Dales says.

The programs will stop in a few weeks, meaning participating families will need to consider other options moving forward.

The programs that are ending are as follows:

  1. Brant Playtime @ Brant Avenue Public School, 64 Brant Ave.
  2. Grange Hill Playtime @ Ken Danby Public School, 525 Grange Rd.
  3. Clairfields Playtime @ St. Paul Catholic School, 182 Clairfields Dr. E.
  4. Two Rivers Playtime @ Sacred Heart Church Hall, 98 Alice St.
  5. Westwood Playtime @ Three Willows United Church, 577 Willow Rd.
  6. Brant & Waverley Playtime @ New Life Church, 400 Victoria Rd N.
  7. Parkwood Gardens Playtime @ Parkwood Gardens Church, 501 Whitelaw Rd.
  8. Downtown Playtime @ Guelph Community Health Centre, 176 Wyndham St. N.

For a list of its other programs that are staying open, you can visit the Guelph CHC's website.

The centre says the decision was not an easy one, but stresses that there are other programs out there, even under its own umbrella.

Funds for the programs come from the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, but not all locations are well-attended.

"We estimate that we've served about 450 families," explains Rachelle Devereaux, executive director of the centre.

But attendance, high or low, is not the driving factor in reallocating the money: Devereaux says the centre is focusing instead on hiring parent outreach workers to help with a program called "nurturing neighbourhoods."

Still, some parents are hoping the CHC will change its mind.

An online petition started by Oussoren has already gathered 200 signatures. The CHC says it's aware of the petition and will meet with the two concerned parents, but is encouraging parents to consider one of its other programs.