Lifeguard shortage putting swim programs in jeopardy

Angus Parkinson (left) and Micah McCourt, sit perched on the life-guard tower,  clearly enjoy an aerial view of Morrisburg’s exciting, family-friendly, new waterfront area. The renovated Morrisburg Beach held its grand re-opening in June 2019. For the 2020 season, South Dundas’ two beaches may have to switch to “Swim at your own risk” as the municipality faces a shortage of lifeguards. – File photo

The hourly wage being offered was increased to $18 to make it more enticing, but still Jamie Scott, South Dundas’ community program coordinator, is concerned that they will not get enough applicants to maintain the past level of lifeguarding at both beaches and the swimming lesson programs.

“The minimum number of lifeguards needed between the two beaches would be seven,” Scott told council at the February 13 council meeting.

“If this minimum is not reached, then we cannot safely guard the patrons of the beach. In this scenario, staff recommends placing ‘Swim at your own risk’ signs at the beach,” said Scott in his report to council.

Council agreed that if they don’t get the necessary lifeguards, a ‘Swim at your own risk’ sign is the only real alternative.

Council also agreed that they should do all they can to maintain a swim program in South Dundas.

Last year 106 children between the two beaches were enrolled in swimming lessons, which were taught by the lifeguards.

Scott said that two lifeguards is the minimum number needed for one swim program.

If they can only hire two lifeguards the municipality will have to drop one of the swimming lesson programs, likely the Morrisburg swim program as it is less popular than the Iroquois program.

However, Scott later told The Leader he is going to try and figure out a way to keep lessons going at both beaches.

“If we can keep the swimming lessons program going, that’s the most important,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds. “It has to be a priority.”

Since you’re here…

… Thanks for reading this article. Local news is important. We hope that you continue to support local news by reading The Leader, online and in print. Please consider subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper. Click here to subscribe today.