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BUDGET: Council buoys hopes of again staffing 3 beaches

The $19,578 request would cover an extra month of full-time lifeguard services in June as the City of North Bay hopes to staff all three of its beaches typically supervised by lifeguards — for a longer stretch of summer
2021 07 28 Lifeguard On Duty Shabogesic Beach (Campaigne)
The City of North Bay hopes to staff all three of its beaches typically supervised by lifeguards — for a longer stretch of summer.

City of North Bay staff is requesting an additional $19,578 in funding in the proposed operating budget so it can fully staff all three local beaches for a longer duration.

"Over the past couple of years — since the COVID-19 pandemic — we have struggled with our recruitment of lifeguards," Bryan Kimber, the City of North Bay's community development coordinator told city councillors, staff, and observers gathered for Tuesday's budget deliberations.

In 2023, two beaches were staffed by high school-aged lifeguards, Shabogesic Beach on Lake Nipissing in July and August and Olmsted Beach on Trout Lake in August only. Due to recruitment challenges, Birchaven Cove, the third municipal beach that is typically staffed went without lifeguards. Once staffed, both Shabogesic Beach and Olmsted Beach were supervised seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

The $19,578 request would cover an extra month of full-time (35–40 hours per week) lifeguard services in June.

Staff believes opening the employment period earlier for lifeguards, with a June start followed by the typical July and August stretch will entice students, especially certified post-secondary students with longer school breaks to apply and accept positions. It takes 12–15 lifeguards for the three municipal beaches to operate at full capacity. 

"We've done a lot of work when it comes to making sure that our wages are on par with what other municipalities and service providers are doing," Kimber added.

It is widely accepted in the industry that staffing levels are historically low and the hope is by offering longer service time, lifeguarding will again be considered attractive employment. Many certified lifeguards saw their credentials lapse during the pandemic when course offerings ceased.

"We've had conversations with lifeguards and other aquatics professionals. That's one of the pieces that comes into play, the duration of the summer job," said Kimber.

The proposal was warmly received around the table with a final decision on service level changes to come.

In 2023, it was hoped all three beaches could be fully staffed but the positions did not garner enough interest from qualified applicants. In early June 2023, the City anticipated two of the three supervised beaches would still be able to operate with lifeguards on duty to open the season but that did not come to fruition and the season opened with only Shabogesic staffed. 

In response to the shortage, the Ontario government lowered the minimum age requirement to be a lifeguard from 16 to 15 years of age

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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