District floats lifeguard recruitment program

The District of Houston is floating a trial program to recruit more lifeguards and swim coaches.

The District of Houston is floating a trial program to recruit more lifeguards and swim coaches.

Speaking to council on Nov. 15, leisure services director Curtis McPhee said staffing trouble is hurting the pool’s ability to run recreation programs.

“We’re having a really large turnover of staff, and a hard time getting enough staff,” he said.

At the moment, just one lifeguard at the pool is certified to give swimming lessons.

Under the new program, he said 12 selected applicants will have lifeguard training course fees covered by the municipality. In return, they will agree to work as lifeguards or recreation workers for at least a year.

Deputy Mayor Rick Lundrigan asked if town was taking a risk that applicants might leave Houston before a year is up.

McPhee said the risk exists, but the leisure facility is already obligated to run about $10,000 in lifeguarding courses.

“Instead of taking a loss and getting one, or maybe two out of that group, we’re looking at spending that same amount to put 12 people that we’ve selected through this course to give us a staffing body.”

Kitimat and Prince Rupert have had success running similar programs, McPhee said.

The trial will cost $4,500, and will be paid for funds in the 2012 budget.

To be considered, applicants must be in good shape, live in Houston, have a clean criminal record and plan to stay in town for the next two years.

The course includes 156 hours of swimming and rescue classes. Selected trainees will pay $320 for books and other training materials.