Crofton Outdoor Pool will be closed this summer because no lifeguards will be on duty during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

No lifeguards this summer for Cowichan’s Fuller Lake, Arbutus Park; Crofton pool closed

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic to blame

Lifeguards will not be at Arbutus Park in Youbou, Fuller Lake Park in Chemainus and the Crofton Outdoor Pool this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike Arbutus Park and Fuller Lake Park, the Crofton Outdoor Pool cannot operate without a lifeguard so the pool will not open for the summer season.

A press release from the Municipality of North and the Cowichan Valley Regional District said The Lifesaving Society, in conjunction with WorkSafe BC and the BC Recreation and Parks Association, is developing training protocols for lifeguards for rescue training, first aid, and use of personal protective equipment during the health crisis.

These protocols would need to be met in order for lifeguards to be present at any indoor or outdoor swimming location.

Even if these protocols were finalized, the Crofton pool would not open in time for summer because it would take a considerable amount of time to hire and train staff on the increased guidelines for public health and safety.

In the absence of supervision by certified lifeguards, North Cowichan and the CVRD remind the public that if they are heading to outdoor beaches to swim, they must maintain active and vigilant supervision of children and swimmers in their care.

The use of life jackets is recommended.

Residents should use public water access points cautiously, and exercise proper physical distancing by keeping two metres away from others who are outside their immediate household.

Remember to wash your hands frequently, especially if you are sharing equipment or making contact with common touch points.

“These decisions have been difficult,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.

“We recognize how important the pool is to parents in Crofton. However, the timelines simply don’t work for that facility. As for the decision not to have lifeguards at Fuller Lake, we’ve had to take a proactive role in protecting our staff as we continue to deal with COVID-19. I want to remind parents to take extra care in supervising their children while using Fuller Lake Park this summer.”

Despite the absence of lifeguards, there is a permanent portable aquatic life ring at Fuller Lake to be used in case of emergencies.

Additionally, there will be a life jacket loaner station available at Fuller Lake.

However, a life jacket loaner station will not be available at Arbutus Park, and parents will be required to supply life jackets to their family members at that facility.

“The decision to not offer lifeguard services at Arbutus Park was made with a heavy heart, but reflects the unprecedented measures we’re taking in response to this pandemic,” said Linda Blatchford, manager of Cowichan Lake Recreation for the CVRD.

“Cowichan Lake Recreation staff hope that everyone will take extra care while visiting waterfront areas around the region this summer.”

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