It’s been back to business as usual at the city’s pools since a lifeguard shortage has been alleviated by pay increases authorized by council earlier this fall.
After some pool closures at Servus Place in late October due to a lack of lifeguard staff, raises were authorized to bring lifeguarding wages up to a more competitive level in early November.
The increases came after staff spent a few months reviewing regional wage levels for lifeguards. Minimum hourly wages for lifeguard positions went up about $5 an hour as of Nov. 10. The previous hourly wage range ran $14.06 to $21.76 depending on qualifications. The range is now from $19 to $24.96.
Since then, staffing levels have increased and lifeguard scheduling hasn’t impacted operations during the busy holiday time at Fountain Park or Servus Place.
“I would say we’ve been at a higher number of staff over the last couple months and we’re in good shape,” said Mark Edwards, business and marketing manager for the city’s recreation and parks department. “We haven’t actually had any capacity issues due to lifeguard shortages at all over the holiday break and don’t anticipate any.”
Edwards wasn’t sure how many new lifeguards have been hired since the raises were implemented. In November, the Gazette was told there was a need for about 12 new lifeguards.
“I do know that we have enough lifeguards to meet our scheduling requirements,” Edwards said.
Sometimes in St. Albert people have to wait to get into the pools due to maximum capacity issues. Back in early November the city’s aquatics services manager warned that while regular pool operating hours would be maintained, there might be extra limits on pool capacity to stick to required lifeguard to swimmer ratios.
However, Edwards said that while this time of year can be busy enough to result in maximum pool capacities being reached, it hasn’t been because of a lack of lifeguards.
“Not as a result of lifeguards for sure. In fact we haven’t had to limit capacity recently,” he said, adding that the pool operations have been mostly back to normal.
Fountain Park and Servus Place have both been open over the holiday break.
“This is always a busy time of year. With Servus Place being spontaneous use all the time and Fountain Park opens up a lot of drop in family swim time, that’s always a popular activity when it’s cold outside,” Edwards noted.
The pools are closing early on New Year’s Eve and stay closed for Jan. 1.