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Vancouver, BC, Canada: Glenn Bodnarchuk was shocked when he heard the Vancouver Parks Board was considering limiting lifeguards to the five busiest beaches in the city.
“I’m appalled there would be nobody there to supervise the beaches,” said Bodnarchuk, 56.
“I can see on a rainy day they could cut down to one guy,” said the Mount Pleasant resident and regular beach goer.
The Vancouver native can’t believe the board would consider removing lifeguards permanently from some beaches.
“On a hot day, man, those places are crowded,” said Bodnarchuk, who pointed out that the guards do much more than just watch the water.
“They regulate a whole bunch of rules, not just the water areas.”
But with the city trying to keep its budget lean, the park board is considering what chairperson Constance Barnes calls “efficiencies” like saving $270,000 by having lifeguards only at the high-use beaches of English Bay, Kitsilano, Locarno, Spanish Banks East and Third Beach.
The move will be discussed at Monday’s 7 p.m. meeting and Barnes is urging residents with concerns to register before noon so they can voice their opinion at the meeting.
“This is an opportunity for the community to come out and speak about this issue,” said Barnes.
The community is already talking about the move through social media with a campaign to save the lifeguards on the GoPetition website.
The board’s two Non-Partisan Association commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova, are also expressing their opposition to cutting down on the amount of lifeguarding.
DeGenova said Sunday there have been 182 incidents like water rescues involving lifeguards in the past four years.
“That’s too many rescues to cut any of our lifeguards,” she said.
Barnes said Vancouver has concentrated on safety with its lifeguard program but other municipalities are less stringent. She pointed to White Rock, where there are no lifeguards on the massive beach there.
There’s also the case of the beach at Trout Lake, which is regularly closed for swimming because of contamination but still has a lifeguard.
Barnes has already heard concerns about reducing the amount of lifeguards so she welcomes Monday’s discussion.
“My gut [feeling] is that we’ll be back at the drawing table on that one,” she said.
Details of the online petition campaign can be seen on the GoPetition website here.
Adapted by GoPetition from a story by Frank Luba, The Province