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Nipigon's public pool will remain closed for the summer

Mayor Suzanne Kukko sat down with Dougall Media to explain why the Nipigon Swimming Pool will not open for the season.

NIPIGON — The time has come to trade the pool for Lake Superior.

In a post made to their Facebook page, the township of Nipigon announced the Nipigon Swimming Pool will not be open for residents and visitors this summer.

The post attributes the closure to “unforeseen circumstances.”

Speaking to Dougall Media, Mayor Suzanne Kukko clarified exactly what has prevented the township from being able to operate the pool this summer.

“Nothing has gone wrong with our pool. Unfortunately, our recreation director was unable – despite her extensive efforts – to recruit students for the summer to be lifeguards. As people may or may not know, there’s quite a bit involved in getting lifeguard certified,” she said.

She added that students would usually travel to Thunder Bay or Marathon for lifeguard certification but the closure of Marathon’s Port Hole Pool means Thunder Bay is now the nearest option.

She also identified three times throughout the year when life-saving courses – in the fall, winter, and spring – are available to students in Nipigon, though she did point out that the spring course usually takes place in May, which is too late to apply for lifeguarding at the pool.

Another suggestion she made was that the township could look to groups other than students – such as educational assistants looking for work in the summer or physically-fit seniors who want to get re-certified.

Even still, there weren’t enough applicants to meet the minimum staffing requirement for Nipigon’s pool in time for this season.

“In order to operate . . . we usually have one person at the front desk who takes people’s money, items for storage, and things like that – and just does various running around for the lifeguards. Then, we need at minimum three lifeguards,” Kukko said.

She noted even if they meet the minimum staffing requirement there are still challenges – such as last summer when the pool’s hours were reduced.

“That doesn’t really allow for the lifeguards to have much time off,” she said.

“It’s ideal to have four or more so that there’s more flexibility in the schedule because we are usually dealing with students and they do like their time off in the summer.”

She said Nipigon’s council and administration have requested a report from recreational staff detailing recruitment efforts so they can work together to address gaps and where the township could be doing more to attract or incentivize potential applicants.

“I know when I was a student, you were hard-pressed to find any job. It was really hard to get a job. I know lifeguarding used to be that way too where there were a bunch of kids that applied and only the best ones got taken. It’s across the board that we have a lack of employees available. It’s the same with students. We’ll have to take a deep look and see what we can do for next year.

“The ideal thing is to have a strategy and start on it right now . . . We do have to plan on getting more than what we need certified so if something happens we’re prepared for it. We really will be working hard – that’s going to be a priority for our staff. I’ve talked to other council members and it will be a priority to make sure we are staffed in order to open next season,” she said.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Austin Campbell is a local journal initiative reporter covering stories in the Superior North region.
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