Strathcona Gardens lifeguard Cianna Dunn keeps watch during a Campbell River Killer Whales practice. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

Training funding boost coming to address Campbell River area lifeguard shortage

Island Health grant to be used to increase water safety skills in Strathcona Regional District

Lifeguard training in the Strathcona Regional District is going to get a lot more accessible thanks to the Island Health Community Wellness Grant.

The SRD received $30,000 in funding to help build the skill set of the water safety community.

“Many of the courses offered will be in outdoor spaces encouraging social togetherness as well as a connection with nature,” said SRD chair Mark Baker.

Earlier this year, a lack of full-time lifeguards was felt as the Strathcona Gardens pool had to adapt to meet its employees needs. The combination of a lack of classes and courses due to the pandemic, retiring lifeguards and changes in work culture all played a part. At the time, more courses and more people certified to teach those courses were identified as potential solutions.

Through the grant, the SRD will be able to offer free Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross and National Lifeguard Waterfront courses at McIvor Lake. The Special Olympics will be able to have after-hours pool rentals at the Strathcona Gardens centre. The grant will give candidates the chance to obtain their National Lifeguard Waterfront and Surf certifications.

“The National Lifeguard waterfront currently has the National Lifeguard Pool certificate as a prerequisite,” said Strathcona Gardens aquatics manager Sarah Madelung. Local lakes will not be staffed by lifeguards this summer, but Madelung said that it could lead to more outdoor programming in future years, like summer camps.

“We also hope the addition of Waterfront certified lifeguards will help support the needs of regional camps such as Camp Homewood and Camp Bob and help with School District excursions,” she said.

In 2024, people with Bronze Cross will be able to take the waterfront course without the pool certification as a prerequisite, but that is not the case this season.

Notably, the grant gives the SRD the chance to offer a free Lifeguard School for all First Nations participants, taught by a First Nations instructor. The course will include skill development, Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, Standard First Aid, National Lifeguard Pool certifications. A portion of the budget will also be allocated to transportation expenses for participants. The funding will also support an Indigenous lifeguard by helping them obtain their Lifesaving and First Aid Instructor certifications.

Funding will go to help subsidize candidate certification and textbook costs for National Lifeguard Pool certifications, which will be running at Centennial Pool in July.

Finally, it will also help provide more ability for water safety training in Houpsitas.

“When training as a lifeguard, you will learn invaluable life-saving skills and confidence that you’ll be able to carry with you throughout the rest of your life,” said Sarah Madelung SRD Manager of Aquatics and Fitness.“The SRD has been very proactive in removing financial barriers for participating in lifeguarding courses, this grant allows us to reach out further beyond the citizens of Campbell River and Area D. With a critical shortage of lifeguards across Canada, we are training participants in immediately employable skills. Each participant will also contribute to the water safety of their community through their awareness and knowledge while improving their own health and well being.”

This grant was a regional application in partnership with the City of Campbell River, Nuchatlaht First Nation, We Wai Kai First Nation, Camp Bob, Epic Exeo, the Lifesaving Society, the Mid Island Emergency Coordinators and Managers, Pacific Coast Children’s Mission and South Quadra Island Improvement District.

For more information about water safety skills and becoming a lifeguard, please visit

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