The District of Houston plans to close the Leisure Facility’s aquatic centre sporadically due to a shortage of lifeguards.
According to the district, a lack of certified local lifeguards have decreased the number of staff readily available for employment, making it difficult for the district to meet a fully staffed facility with full operational hours.
“District staff are making every effort to ensure the ongoing operation of the pool to best serve the needs of the public; this includes altering current lifeguarding schedules and reducing operating hours when rescheduling is not a viable option,” said Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s chief administrative officer. “However, these methods do not always work, and do mean that staff have to make the difficult decision to close the aquatic area to the public.”
“Unfortunately, we are not able to selectively close certain areas of the pool,” he continued. “The safety of our staff and the public is our number one priority, and ensuring their safety means that, when we cannot meet our staffing requirements, we will close the entire aquatic area rather than selectively closing certain areas.”
“This ensures that customers and their families can use the facility and know that, if they run into trouble, our staff can effectively respond and assist as needed to ensure their safety,” he added.
Hours in the pool may be reduced to “less daytime hours” or “full weekend shut downs,” according to the district. Reduced hours will be advertised at the facility and on social media.
“We will be letting the public know of all service interruptions and closures a week prior to the interruptions taking effect, and if programs are affected we will contact registrants directly to advise them of any interruptions well in advance,” explained Pinchbeck. “We will be regularly posting to Facebook and our website to ensure that customers receive notice well in advance of closures taking effect.”
The sporadic closure will not include the fitness centre, which will continue to operate its regular hours.
District staff are now working on long-term planning to fulfill the staff needs once again.
Last week council requested that staff bring back a report outlining a hiring strategy for lifeguards, as well as an overview of the reasons for the district’s high lifeguard turnover.
In addition, council asked staff to provide an overview of training requirements and possible alternatives, as well as an overview of aquatic facility regulations – particularly regarding staffing requirements.
The district encourages residents to check in with the Leisure Service’s Facebook page to see if there is a planned service interruption before arriving at the facility, or to contact Leisure Services staff at 250-845-7420 if they have any questions.