New Brunswick

Lifeguard-short Rothesay reduces beach schedule, cancels swimming lessons

Lifeguarding has the reputation of being a sweet summer gig, but this year the Town of Rothesay can't find enough people who want to do the job.

Town considers covering expenses, raising wages to recruit more certified lifeguards for its 2 beaches

The Town of Rothesay is short of lifeguards this summer, and beachgoers will notice. (Town of Rothesay/Facebook)

The Town of Rothesay is having a hard time finding enough certified lifeguards to work at its two beaches this summer.

As it stands now, the only way around the staffing shortage is to reduce the days of supervision at K-Park beach and Renforth Beach, and cancel swimming lessons.

Beginning June 26, K-Park beach will be lifeguarded Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Renforth Beach will be lifeguarded Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

"This is new, we typically guard our beaches every day of the week," said Charles Jensen, Rothesay's director of recreation and parks.

Charles Jensen, Rothesay's director of recreation and parks, says the town is trying to come up with better compensation for lifeguards. (Rachel Cave/CBC)
The town typically hires up to eight lifeguards every summer, but only has five on its roster this year.

Jensen suspects a few things are at play.

"A fair bit of training goes into being a lifeguard, the cost is a fair bit for swimming lessons and other courses to get certified," he said.

"Our beaches don't open until the end of June, so a lot of our students work in other fields to get by."

Jensen said most of the town's park staff are hired by early May.

"So they're getting extra weeks of work in the summertime — that might be a factor," he said.

Town officials are still trying to recruit summer hires for its beaches. They're also looking at ways to better compensate their lifeguards, said Jensen.

Lifeguards will be on duty fewer days this year because Rothesay is short three.

The starting wage for a student lifeguard is about $12.50, compared with about $11 or $12 for park students, who don't require as much training. The New Brunswick minimum wage is $11.25 an hour.

"We're trying to maybe cover some of the expenses for them and try to look at our wages and see if we can work something out that way," he said.

"We're looking at doing some recruitment at the two local high schools and getting the word out, talking to people, saying we might offer subsidies to be a lifeguard. That's what we're thinking going forward."

Jensen said the town is still taking applications with about two weeks to go before the summer launch.

Application forms can be found on the town's website.

With files from Information Morning Saint John