There was a close call at Long Lake in Yellowknife on Tuesday when a small child almost drowned, with no lifeguard present at the beach.
Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem said he heard reports about the near-drowning.
Van Tighem said witnesses saw a small child being carried from the water to the shore in the early evening.
He also said someone has since phoned him about concerns that no lifeguard was on site to help in such an emergency.
Van Tighem said the city offers lifeguard training and has five full-time and 25 part-time lifeguards to work at pools. However, he said none of them are certified or qualified to work at the beach.
He said young people in the city who become lifeguards often leave for school or move away.
"It's a constant rotation of people," he said. "Certainly there's a feeling of greater safety if there's a lifeguard there, but it's quite challenging and it's not inexpensive."
He said like in any other public area, people at Long Lake are responsible for their safety and that of their children.
On Wednesday, some people relaxing on the popular beach said they know it's a place where they must swim at their own risk.
"I feel safe. I can see that accidents can happen, if you're not watching your kids closely. I don't really worry too much because my kids are older, but I guess if they were a lot younger we might not be spending as much time here," said Lisa Jarvis.
Others said they believe an extra pair of eyes on the water is needed.
"I would feel better. I know when I grew up here, there was a lifeguard and I don't know [at]
what point they took that away," said another Yellowknife resident, the mother of a three-year-old.
Van Tighem said the territorial government paid for lifeguards at Long Lake until 1998, and none has been stationed at the beach since then.
According to the N.W.T. Recreation and Parks Association's website, drowning rates in the territory are much higher than the rest of the country. The vast majority of people who drown are not wearing a life-jacket, it adds.