Pool drops lessons, reduces hours

by Derek Cornet

Public access hours to the Meadow Lake Aquatic Centre have been slimmed due to staffing shortages, and local swimmers are feeling the waves.

Before changes to the schedule occurred, Meadow Lake resident Deirdre Todd said she would spend a considerable amount of time in the evenings swimming at the pool. But, since a reshuffling and decline in programming, her time at the centre would now be limited.

“The reduction to the hours of operations at the aquatic centre and resulting change to the swimming scheduling has resulted in a reduced and inconvenient access to the pool by families and the general public,” Todd said. “It is unfortunate these changes were made without the opportunity for input from the affected user groups.”

When Todd first realized the changes to the schedule were coming, she thought she would be able to work her schedule with that of the pool’s, but couldn’t because lane swimming doesn’t begin now until 8 a.m. According to a previous schedule, the aquatic centre used to be open an hour earlier and an hour later. Todd said the new schedule doesn’t accommodate working people.

The pool also no longer offers swimming lessons for students during the day. In the past, schools were able to sign up classrooms for lessons, but according to city manager Diana Burton, the daytime staff is no longer available. She said much of the staff left in August to pursue other opportunities or to go back to school.

“We haven’t been able to fill those positions,” Burton said. “Lifeguarding requires a fairly substantial amount of training and certification, and we don’t have the people applying for the jobs to take over.”

According to the City of Meadow Lake website, there are currently no job openings at any city facilities. A search for available jobs on saskjobs.ca also shows no listings for lifeguards at the Meadow Lake pool. Burton said the city is currently depending on word of mouth to fill the vacancies, but was unsure if any new staff would be found by the end of the year. She went on to say the pool largely relies on high school students or young adults for staffing. She also said schools were given notice in August about the pending changes. She also apologized to pool users for any inconveniences and stated no decisions were made lightly.

“It’s an ongoing discussion on how to provide the best service for the community,” she said.

But, as snow began to fall last week, Todd said residents are losing access to one of the few public facilities the community offers at the worst possible time.

“I was swimming four days a week and now I can’t go,” Todd said. “And, it comes at a time when there’s such a push for living active lifestyles.”

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