N.B. town struggling to find enough lifeguards for beaches
Published Thursday, June 7, 2018 9:38PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, June 7, 2018 10:59PM ADT
One New Brunswick town says two of its public beaches will be without a lifeguard on duty for several days this summer.
It’s not for a lack of effort, though. The town of Rothesay says it's becoming more and more difficult to fill every lifeguard positions offered.
“Were struggling to get enough guards, typically we hire 7 or 8, we only have 5 right now,” said Charles Jensen, Rothesay’s parks and recreation director.
The impact of having fewer lifeguards available to work will mean a reduction in how often the beach will be watched.
“Right now, Rothesay beaches, the two Rothesay beaches at Renforth and K-Park will not be guarded on Mondays.”
Rothesay is not the only community having trouble hiring enough lifeguards. It has become a challenge throughout North America, says Angela Johnson of the Lifesaving Society of New Brunswick in Fredericton.
“We're not 100 per cent sure why it is the way that it is, but we are working with pools and waterfronts to try and work on solutions, and try to find different ways to meet the demographic,” she said. “To hire new lifeguards, to train them, to find people who want to do that job.”
The hourly wage for a lifeguard is often pointed to as a reason why recruitment has been difficult.
The town of Rothesay says it has tried to be competitive.
“Typically, we start around 12 dollars an hour, and when students come back a year they get a percentage increase. So our rate, our wages, range to 12 to 15 dollars an hour,” Jensen said.
The struggles have raised concerns that an unguarded beach or pool could become more frequent and lead to more drownings. Less than one per cent of drownings happen when a lifeguard is present at a pool or a waterfront
Jensen is hoping he can find a few more lifeguards to add the town's roster, before July.
In the meantime, some communities have been trying to encourage an older population, particularly people who are retired, to think about becoming a qualified lifeguard, to fill that gap.
With files from Nick Moore.