THE Vancouver Park Board will delay the annual opening of its five outdoor pools and will not immediately provide lifeguards at its nine bathing beaches while conducting a thorough review of how to protect swimmers and staff from the risk of COVID-19.
For decades, the Park Board has signaled the return of summer each May long weekend by opening outdoor pools at Second Beach, Kitsilano Beach, New Brighton Park, Maple Grove Park, and Hillcrest Aquatic Centre and providing lifeguards at public swimming beaches in the city.
“The impacts of COVID-19 on our daily life and recreation habits have been difficult for many in our community and we understand this is not welcome news for Vancouver, but public safety is our top priority and unfortunately we are not in a position to open this weekend,” said Daisy Chin, Director of Recreation for the Vancouver Park Board.
The Park Board, along with other municipal outdoor pool operators, is awaiting the release of new operating guidelines from Lifesaving Society Canada to help guide revised procedures to safely support swimmers at both pools and beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Society’s report-back is expected at the end of May and will include new procedures for lifeguards to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19 during rescues, including new in-water rescue techniques, modified first aid and resuscitation protocols, and the proper use of personal protective equipment.
Once a feasible revised operating plan is developed and approved, the Park Board will move swiftly to hire and train staff and ready outdoor pool facilities.
Vancouver beaches have remained open during the pandemic and will continue to be open this weekend. The major change will be that lifeguards will not be on duty and rafts at English Bay, Jericho, Kitsilano, and Locarno beaches will not be installed.
The Park Board typically provides lifeguards at its nine beaches for 16 weeks during the summer, staffing them from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. The beaches are located at: Spanish Banks, Locarno, Jericho, Kitsilano, Sunset, English Bay, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Trout Lake.
New signage will be present at the beaches indicating that swimmers enter the water at their own risk.
For more information about the status of services and facilities impacted by COVID-19, visit: vancouver.ca/covid19.