After crews raced to get Vancouver’s Kitsilano Pool open for the B.C. Day long weekend, the facility has been forced to reduce service due to staffing problems.
The Vancouver Park Board said Monday that both Kits Pool and the outdoor pool at Second Beach would not be allowing drop-in swimmers due to “continued challenges with lifeguard availability.”
Reservations for the 5:45 p.m. timeslot at Kits and 6 p.m. timeslot at Second Beach were also cancelled.
Sunset Beach was also without lifeguard staffing on Monday.
The park board did not make anyone available for an on-camera interview Monday, but issued a statement saying the “ongoing lifeguard staff shortage has been affecting services and facility operations, not only in Vancouver, but internationally.
“Pool closures and program cancellations are always a last resort, but unlike other industries facing staff shortages, without the presence of lifeguards to maintain a safe environment for swimmers, our facilities cannot operate,” it said.
“Beach users are reminded that designated lifeguard supervised swimming areas are marked with the red and yellow beach flags when staff are on duty.”
The service reduction came after the board closed the pool to all swimmers more than three hours early on Sunday due to a shortage of lifeguards.
In that case, the facility refunded swimmers who had booked evening timeslots.
Dale Miller, executive director of the Lifesaving Society’s BC/Yukon branch told Global News the city wasn’t alone in dealing with a shortage of qualified staff.
“This is not just a Vancouver situation – it’s Canada-wide, in fact its global,” he said.
“We have seen this occurring throughout the world and I think its just a matter of two years of a lack of access to courses to train lifeguards, so there is that two-year cohort of potential lifeguards that we have lost so we are catching up.”
Miller said there was high demand for lifeguard training, and that he hoped to see the shortage ease in six months to a year.
In an interview last week, park board general manager Donnie Rosa told Global News she didn’t anticipate ocean guards would be pulled to staff pools.
“There’s a lot of intricacies when it comes to what day is it, what’s the weather like, what’s the tide like, so we may have to move folks around — but I don’t see us taking (life) guards off beaches to open pools,” Rosa said.
Kits pool officially reopened on Saturday after suffering significant damage during the storm surge in January that also wreaked havoc on the Stanley Park seawall.
Park board officials had initially said the facility might not reopen at all this summer, but staff determined in June that its structural integrity had not been compromised and that it could be opened with minor repairs.
More in-depth repairs are scheduled for after the pool closes for the season on Sept. 5.