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Lifeguard shortage causing headaches at Eastlink Centre

Thanks to the flu going around and recent resignations, the Eastlink Centre is dealing with a lifeguard shortage. The Aquatics centre normally has between 65 and 70 to work with, but they’re down to 58.

With less staff to look over people in the water and on the deck, it’s led to parts of the facility staying closed, and reaching capacity quicker. Kim Stajkowski says she’s been turned away two weekends in a row, is considering not using the facility anymore.

“I feel that if I’m paying almost $25 for me, my husband, and my daughter to go swimming, we should have access to all of the pool, and that swimming lessons should be at different times of day or on specific days.”

Weekends and between 4 and 7 p.m. weekdays is the busiest time for the pool, and that’s when many swimming classes are held. Stajkowski says she understands the need to make changes for safety, but she wishes staff better communicated when issues are happening.

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“I have no problem if the Eastlink Centre were to say, ‘our pools are shut down at this time for this service or that service and these are other hours you can have,’ but they’re not very good about advertising that, and you don’t really find out that information until you actually show up.”

Eastlink Centre assistant manager Carol Longmore says increased public notices will be part of their strategy to deal with the current shortage. A plan is now in place to update social media more often and quicker. They also have a new wait list system in place for when the facility reaches capacity.

“We call extra staff in to be able to manage those lines, so we can better see when two people leave the change rooms, two people go in. They’re starting to line up now in that area just outside of the change rooms and we have staff member provided to manage that.”

For the past couple of weeks, Longmore says they’d increased shifts for the lifeguards still around, but they can’t do that any longer. The Flow Rider has since been closed and one of the fitness classes cancelled.

“We also manage things based on a day-by-day perspective, so if you’re coming in and there’s a whole bunch of people in the Lazy River, then perhaps that means that we close parts of the 50 metre [pool] instead of spreading our staff out across the entire deck.”

Longmore also encourages people to make the most of their membership at this time, and check out other areas of the building. Those who drop-in can also speak to staff to figure out when would be the best time for them to swim.

Five news lifeguards are already being trained and should be able to start fairly soon. In the meantime, the Eastlink Centre is still hiring for lifeguards, and ones who can work casual hours are most needed. All courses needed to get certified are offered at the facility.

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