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Vancouver lifeguard shortage not to blame for reduced West End pool hours, park board says

When opening hours at Second Beach Pool were expanded to begin at 7 a.m. last month, West End resident Jorge Amigo took advantage, swimming at the pool about three times a week before work.

“There is a lot of lane swimming happening, but there’s a lot less kids and chaos,” he said.

On Tuesday, his morning visit was cut short, when he noticed a sign on the front gate directing him to go to Kitsilano Pool instead.

“Kits Pool is definitely not a substitute for this pool because it’s not in my neighbourhood. It’s very far,” he said.

According to the Vancouver Park Board, the change of hours isn’t due to a lifeguard shortage. Rather, the hours at Second Beach were expanded because of a temporary closure at Kits Pool. With Kits Pool now open, Second Beach Pool has returned to its previous opening time: noon.

"The initial rationale behind using Second Beach Pool was to cover for the Kits Pool closure,” said park board chair Scott Jensen. "It sounds to me that we need to look in to the possibility of ensuring this pool is open for early morning swimmers.”

Jensen said he has received a number of complaints since the expanded hours at Second Beach Pool went away. He's directing park board staff to look into having the facility open early again.

“I stay in the city because there's amazing public amenities like public pools," said Amigo. "If these things keep getting clawed back and taken away, it makes life in an unaffordable city a little less worth it."

Jensen could not confirm a timeline for when or if hours could be re-expanded at Second Beach Pool this summer.

It’s a time change that could require additional lifeguard staff, something the park board has already struggled with this year.

Last weekend, the board posted online that Spanish Banks West and Sunset beaches were unguarded due to a lifeguard shortage.

The park board says it has 16 vacancies for lifeguard positions. It has roughly half as many auxiliary staff as its target number.

In Port Coquitlam, meanwhile, all lifeguard vacancies have been filled. The city has even over-hired five additional employees. According to Mayor Brad West, it has allowed the city expand its public pool hours.

“It’s no good having a bunch of outdoor pools if you can’t open them or they’re open on a very limited basis and people can’t use them because they aren’t staffed,” said West.

In Vancouver, the park board says it is actively working to hire additional lifeguards and launched marketing campaigns earlier this spring.

“This campaign resulted in all courses offered to train new lifeguards operating with full participation levels, and also has increased applications for lifeguard positions in Vancouver,” a spokesperson for the Vancouver Park Board told CTV News.

The cost of certain certification courses has also been reduced through Vancouver’s Leisure Access Program.

Indoor lifeguard positions pay from $25.21 to $29.63 per hour, while outdoor lifeguard positions start at $30.81 per hour. Top Stories


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