FAMILIES looking to cool off with a dip at Cates or Panorama parks this summer will have to look out for themselves after lifeguard positions at the two parks were scuttled in budget cutbacks.
A lifeguard has traditionally been on duty on weekends at Cates Park and seven days a week at Panorama Park in the District of North Vancouver during the months of July and August. Recently, however, the North Vancouver Recreation Commission decided to cut both lifeguard positions in a bid to save money. The move is expected to save the commission about $35,000 a year.
In cutting the lifeguards, North Vancouver is following a trend that's arisen in many other municipalities around the Lower Mainland, said Heather Turner, director of recreation for the recreation commission.
"There are lots of beaches where this was removed a long time ago," she said.
Turner said although both beaches are popular with families and teens during the summer, young children are rarely without adult supervision.
Along the entire North Vancouver shoreline, "so much of the beach is unsupervised," anyway, said Turner, and people already choose to swim in many areas that have no lifeguards on duty.
In neighbouring West Vancouver, the municipality still pays to keep lifeguards on duty at both Ambleside and Dundarave beaches from June 25 to Sept. 3 at an annual cost of about $60,000. West Vancouver has managed to trim some costs by reducing the hours the lifeguards are on duty, said district spokeswoman Jessica Delaney. At Ambleside, lifeguards work from 12 to 7 p.m. while at Dundarave, lifeguards are on duty from 1: 30 to 6: 30 p.m. during weekdays and from 12 to 6: 30 p.m. on weekends. In rainy weather, lifeguards head indoors to work in the district's aquatic centre instead.
Turner said most of the time in North Vancouver, lifeguards have only been called on to provide very minor first aid at the beaches - like providing band-aids. She said recreation staff couldn't find any incidents in which a drowning was prevented by lifeguards on duty.