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Lifeguard shortage means less swim time at Castlegar, Nelson and Creston pools

Regional District of Central Kootenay reducing hours at Castlegar, Nelson and Creston pools
Pool hours at RDCK facilities are being reduced. Photos: Jennifer Small

The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) is blaming a nation-wide shortage of lifeguards and swimming instructors for a continued reduction in hours at its Castlegar, Creston and Nelson pools.

A statement released by the RDCK last week did not give specifics as to how reduced the hours would be, but suggested double-checking your facility’s schedule before heading to the pool as information may change quickly.

Changes to hours of operation will be shared on the facility’s recorded phone greeting, on facility signs, on social media, and on the RDCK website.

“Public safety is our number-one priority and unfortunately with staff leaving to pursue other career paths and on leave, we do not have adequate experienced staff to operate our regional pools at full capacity, for the time being,” said Joe Chirico, RDCK General Manager of Community Services.

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“We have been playing catch-up in our succession of experienced staff, due to the interruption in training and development for future lifeguards and swim instructors. Our goal is to get back to pre-pandemic service delivery, and without more staff, including aquatics leadership at all our pools, the hours will continue to be limited and will continue to fluctuate.”

The RDCK says the lifeguard shortage began during the pandemic when training and certification programs were put on hold.

It typically takes about two and a half years to train a lifeguard or swim instructor to work in the field.

“To ensure the RDCK can grow its experienced and qualified staff, we are applying a regional approach to training to provide opportunities throughout the RDCK region,” said Amanda Beavers, RDCK Regional Programmer. “We are utilizing qualified staff to deliver courses as needed or contracting to external instructors when the qualification or capacity is not held in house.”

If you are interested in pursuing a lifeguard or swim instructor certification, contact any RDCK facility or visit for information about training opportunities.

The RDCK is looking for responsible individuals with lifeguarding and/or supervisory experience — especially those who are able to work throughout the week and during the day. RDCK aquatics and recreation job opportunities are posted at

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