Mar. 1 swimming pool opening questionable

Recreation Manager Bain Gair says the Lillooet REC Centre has been “singularly unsuccessful” to date in its efforts to recruit lifeguards/swim instructors to work at the swimming pool this season.

As of Jan. 31, only one person had applied for one-part time position for the season. The REC Centre is looking for three full-time and two part-time applicants to open the pool for a season beginning Mar. 1 and ending June 15.

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“It’s difficult to attract lifeguards for a three-month opening which we’ve done in recent years,” said Gair. “This year, we’re hoping to do a four-month opening which is still a very short season. When you’re trying to attract somebody from outside the community to come for that kind of a short stay, it’s difficult.”

He suggested it may be time for the REC Centre to consider paying for staff training as a way to recruit lifeguards in the future.

 We haven’t allowed in past years in our budget to cover their training expenses and they are significant. They have annual re-certifications that they have to take that they have to pay for themselves under the current system we have set up.”

He said the REC Centre has extended the deadline for applications to Feb. 15, which he described as “pretty much the last day we could handle applications.”

Gair added that the Mar. 1 opening date is not ideal for potential lifeguards currently attending university; they haven’t finished their exams by that date. 

The REC Centre is “keeping all its options open for this year,” continued Gair.

He suggested the facility may pursue other strategies in 2020 and beyond.

“Perhaps we could come up with another strategy in partnership with schools or other small communities within the region,” he said. “This is an issue in other communities as well.”

In addition to upgrading their certifications, potential lifeguards face the challenge of finding short-term housing, which is at a premium in Lillooet.

It’s also easier for communities in closer proximity to larger centres i.e. Cache Creek to Kamloops, to recruit lifeguards.

“People can do the daily commute from Kamloops to Cache Creek, but it’s much harder to do the commute from Kamloops to Lillooet,” Gair observed.

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