Bulkley Valley Regional Pool and Recreation Centre (File photo)

BV Pool still suffering from lifeguard shortage

Pool running reduced cost training programs to try to alleviate the aquatic staff shortage

The BV Regional Pool and Recreation Centre (BVPRC) will continue to run reduced hours amid a staff shortage despite their best efforts to recruit more lifeguards and swim instructors.

This summer they offered multiple sessions of training programs at a reduced cost to entice more people to work on the pool deck.

BVPRC facility manager Tamara Gillis explained they wanted to remove the financial barrier to becoming a lifeguard.

“Essentially they pay very little for the lifeguard training courses and also enter into an agreement to get paid back for some of the courses in the end,” she said.

“We had four people apply and one person go through and complete all the way. We were expecting a little more. We tried again this fall and we now have three in progress.”

She added she still thinks the program was successful.

“It created more awareness in the community about the process of becoming a lifeguard and just that it is a process for sure and it is a time commitment,” she said.

“The whole point of the lifeguard training program was to reduce the financial burden of that process but there still needs to be commitment from people for the time and the energy to go through the process of training. It is about 80-100 hours of training.”

Gillis said the reduced cost programs also helped to beef up their feeder programs and they will hopefully not run into an aquatic staff shortage in the future.

“The one big success of the lifeguard training program is that we offered the bronze medallion and bronze cross courses this summer and fall for a heavily reduced cost. That is basically the prerequisite for becoming a lifeguard or swim instructor. It allowed people to try it out. We had 16 people in our summer program. A lot of those were between the ages of 13-15, they can’t start the process to become a swim instructor until they are 15.”

Gillis said they just need more people working the pool deck; they have enough employees at the front desk and on the climbing wall.

BVPRC’s reduced hours will continue for at least the rest of the winter season.

“We are running at maximum capacity right now with the staffing we have. We are running a reduced schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays and still closed on Sunday.”

In order for regular operational hours, they need to hire about 10 more casual employees.

Despite this, Gillis said things are looking up and she feels positive.

“The community has been very understanding. It is not just at the BV pool, aquatic staff across the country are low and just in our community in general a lot of businesses are looking for employees. It seems to be a bit of a trend. We would love to hire more people so that our staff can work less and maintain that work-life balance that people are looking for.”

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