Whitewater township will subsidize swimming lessons

·2 min read

Cobden -- The Township of Whitewater Region (WWR) will pay non-resident fees for swim lessons in Pembroke for Whitewater residents who wish to take advantage of those opportunities in 2023.

WWR had budgeted for its own swim lesson program for this year, making $22,286.40 available to pay two certified lifeguards for 35 hours a week for 15 weeks. When the positions were advertised earlier this year, no applications were received and township staff proposed the alternate plan. WWR had already partnered with the City of Pembroke in 2022 to secure swim program availability for its residents.

Treasurer Kurtis McGonegal, who presented the staff report on the proposal to the April 26 meeting of council, said that the cost of the subsidy would be absorbed by the salary budgeted for employing staff to run the township’s own program. The cost to WWR in 2022 was $878.

“The non-resident user fee for residents of Whitewater Region would be between $39 and $49 per session,” Mr. McGonegal said. “Programming offered includes private lessons, Aqua Tots, Swim Preschool and Swim Kids lessons.”

Swim lessons could not be offered by WWR in 2017 and 2018, also because of the lack of a qualified instructor. However, the township was able to hire two certified lifeguards in 2019 and ran a successful program with 83 participants. Due to the pandemic, the program did not run in 2020 and 2021.

“As municipalities struggle to find certified lifeguards, ongoing partnerships may be the way of the future to retain shared use of programming and regional facilities,” Mr. McGonegal said. “The township has been corresponding this winter and spring with neighbouring municipalities on other recreational opportunities as well.”

At the request of Mayor Neil Nicholson, the option of lifeguarding courses was added to the list of programs eligible for subsidization by WWR.

“If we have a teen interested in becoming a lifeguard, hopefully we could pay the non-resident fee for them as well, and hopefully they would be interested in future employment as a lifeguard,” he said.

Mr. McGonegal will discuss that possibility with the city.

Mayor Nicholson added that during discussions with the city the option of running outdoor swim programs in WWR using city staff was proposed.

“They looked at that as a viable opportunity,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re offering lifesaving skills to our residents, as close to home as possible.”

There are two public outdoor swimming areas in WWR: one at Little Lakes just outside of Beachburg and another at Muskrat Lake in Cobden.

Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader