City aquatic centre employees will be taking advantage of the annual pool maintenance closure beginning Aug. 31 to interview prospective lifeguards.
The goal will be to bring staffing levels back up for normal operations, says lifeguard instructor Debbie van’t Kruis.
With some of the current lifeguard complement heading to post-secondary schools, the pool is preparing for a shortage.
“We’ll have enough to maintain operations, but barely,” said van’t Kruis.
“We will hope that nobody gets sick.”
Ideally, the aquatic centre wants 20 lifeguards on staff, but they can get by with 14 or 15.
“In the fall, we will have ten total,” said van’t Kruis.
Other northern communities such as Smithers and Kitimat face the same kind of challenge, she added.
“Right now it seems to be an epidemic [in the north],” she said.
A lifeguard development program this summer drew ten participants, all considering furthering training.
“We won’t have anybody ready to be hired yet, but we did inspire them to consider further training, which is what we wanted to do,” said van’t Kruis.
Several people are now traveling to other communities to further their training.
The centre’s own development program will resume this fall, either before or after school hours to accommodate more people.
It’s also set to run a front crawl clinic to help potential lifeguards learn the fastest stroke and accelerate their training.
Both programs start up September 28, when the pool re-opens after the maintenance closure.
Aquatic centre manager Mike Carlyle says that during the closure pipes will be cleaned, tiles will either be re-grouted or replaced and water jets in the leisure and whirl pools will be replaced.
One of the diving boards will also be replaced as part of general upkeep and the rope swing may be moved to make it more usable.
“There’s not going to be a whole lot that is visible,” Carlyle said. “It’s all annual maintenance.”
Besides repair, van’t Kruis said the big task is draining water from the pools and cleaning everything.
“We really work at making things sparkle and shine,” she said.