To comply with national regulations, an additional 1,300 hours of lifeguarding is required at the Vernon Aquatic Centre. (File photo)

Vernon pool to see price increase, hours cut

Additional lifeguard requirements behind changes to be made to Vernon Aquatic Centre

Pool admission prices will rise four per cent in Vernon and some hours will be changed in order to cover the cost of hiring additional lifeguards.

The Vernon Aquatic Centre will require an additional lifeguard on deck with more than 80 patrons in the water, city director of recreation services Doug Ross told city council Monday.

The change is a requirement that ensures the city is in compliance with national standards, outlined by the Lifesaving Society of Canada.

The cost of the additional 1,300 hours of life guarding time is an estimated $43,000.

The City of Vernon approved the increases, but its partners in the Recreation Services Facilities and Programming Agreement, including the District of Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C, did not approve the pool’s requested changes.

To make up for the unexpected $43,000 cost, the poolsuggested cutting its operational hours by a half hour Mondays through Thursdays and an hour earlier on Fridays for the rest of the year, as well as nixing afternoon summer swims.

That would reduce the financial burden on its patrons.

“As reducing operating hours drastically or increasing fees significantly would impact participation more than what is advisable, administration is recommending a balanced approach by reducing some operating hours and instituting a moderate fee increase,” Ross wrote in his report to council.

Altering the pool’s operational hours will save around $23,000, while impacting around 9,000 user visits.

The four per cent increase in fees will make up the remaining $20,000.

Several Vernon councillors weren’t fond of either change, noting the pool is well used and is often at capacity.

“It’s unfortunate that (Recreation Services Facilities and Programming Agreement partners) are not being a team player on this,” Coun. Dalvir Nahal said.

“These are services we need.”

Coun. Brian Quiring asked if a two-tiered admissions fee could be implemented for residents who live outside of Vernon.

“This was not something that was anticipated to occur within the five-year agreement,” Ross said.

“They (have the) right to decline and there’s nothing in our agreement to have a two-tiered system.”

“I’m getting tired of our facilities getting used and partners not ponying up,” Coun. Scott Anderson said.

“Why are we remaining in a partner agreement that doesn’t work?”

Nahal said the changes to the pool will impact those who are on a tight budget most.

“It’s very unfortunate,” she said.

“Coldstream is a pretty bougee (bourgeois) place, but this will affect many in the downtown core.”

The changes were approved by council with Anderson and Coun. Akbal Mund voting against the cost-saving measures.

City staff will return to council with appropriate changes to the bylaw before final adoption.

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