Aquatic centres in Castlegar, Nelson, and Creston will see their hours reduced due to a shortage of lifeguards.
It wasn’t immediately clear just how much hours are being scaled back, but in a media release the Regional District of Central Kootenay suggests you double check their schedule before visiting their facilities, as things could change quickly. Changes to hours of operation will be on each facility’s recorded phone greetings, signs, and website.
The RDCK said the problem is nationwide.
“Public safety is our No. 1 priority and unfortunately with staff leaving to pursue other career paths and on leave, we do not have adequate experienced staff to operate our regional pools at full capacity, for the time being,” said Joe Chirico, general manager of community services.
“We have been playing catch-up in our succession of experienced staff, due to the interruption in training and development for future lifeguards and swim instructors. Our goal is to get back to pre-pandemic service delivery, and without more staff, including aquatics leadership at all our pools, the hours will continue to be limited and will continue to fluctuate.”
The RDCK said the lifeguard shortage began with the pandemic, when pools across the region shut down and training and certification programs were put on hold.
Even though the RDCK continues to offer these programs and have developed other opportunities to fast track training for existing staff, new lifeguards need time and supervision to build their skills, they said.
With the industry average for a lifeguard or swim instructor to work in the field being two and a half years, many pools across the province are still trying to get ahead of the time lost due to the pandemic.
“To ensure the RDCK can grow its experienced and qualified staff, we are applying a regional approach to training to provide opportunities throughout the RDCK region,” said RDCK regional programmer Amanda Beavers.
“We are utilizing qualified staff to deliver courses as needed or contracting to external instructors when the qualification or capacity is not held in house.”
Anybody interested in pursuing their lifeguard or swim instructor certification can contact any RDCK facily or visit rdck.ca/recreation for information about training opportunities.
The RDCK is looking for responsible individuals with lifeguarding and/or supervisory experience, especially those able to work throughout the week and during the day. All RDCK aquatics and recreation job opportunities are posted at www.rdck.ca/jobs.