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Vancouver Island rec centres struggle with lifeguard, instructor shortage

Vancouver Island rec centres are facing an ongoing battle to keep their heads above water – when it comes to staffing.

A lifeguard and swim instructor shortage is limiting the number of programs being offered across the island.

Cathy Watts, aquatic programmer at Saanich Commonwealth Place, says an additional 30 to 40 instructors are needed to meet community demand.

"And then for lifeguards, we need to hire at least 40, 50, 60," she said.

Watts notes that those hires are needed at the Saanich Commonwealth Place alone.

Meanwhile at Panorama Recreation in North Saanich, program services manager Kathrine Beck says they are looking to double their staff.

"Demand for swimming lessons is huge in the community and we just don’t have enough swim instructors to offer those programs," she said.

Beck says a contributing problem is the end of the Red Cross swimming program last year.

"Because of that hiccup, paired with COVID, there’s been a delay in getting more trainers to teach the courses, and get those instructors through the door."

In Nanaimo, financial support is being offered for people to get certified. Meanwhile, on the South Island, there's interest in hiring people looking for a career change or casual work after retiring.

With the recruitment incentives being offered up and down Vancouver Island, there is hope that the staffing shortage will be sorted soon.

"By two years, I’m pretty confident that we’ll have enough staff that we can do all the bells and whistles," said Watts.

Beck is hopeful for a similar timeline.

"We’re hopeful that as we build our staff team and continue to run the courses, that a year or two from now we won’t be in the same position," she said. "We’ll have a full compliment of staff to run our programs." Top Stories

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