24 February 2012

Jericho Beach lifeguards would disappear under proposed park-board budget cuts

By Carlito Pablo,

For as long as Mike Cotter knows, Vancouver’s Jericho Beach has always been a lifeguarded beach.

But to the dismay of the long-time general manager of the Jericho Centre Sailing Association, lifeguard services may be cut from this popular water destination by the Vision Vancouver-led park board.

A staff report on the February 27 agenda of the park board indicated that lifeguard services will be focused on five beaches only this year.

It’s a cost-cutting measure intended to save $270,000.

For Cotter, this isn’t right.

“The city and the park board have always underestimated the interest that citizens have in using the ocean for recreational purposes,” Cotter told the Straight in a phone interview today (February 24). “And we’re going the other way. The population of the city is growing.”

According to Cotter, the city’s population is also getting younger and sports activities are among their priorities.

“A swim in the city is one thing that you think would be second nature,” he said. “We advertise our beaches as some of the best swimming beaches in the world and I think that is the case. But reducing the safety presence there is a direction the city shouldn’t be going.”

The staff report recommends lifeguard services be concentrated at five beaches: English Bay, Kits Beach, Locarno, Spanish Banks East, and Third Beach.

It’s part of the $1.3-million budget cut being proposed for the park board for 2012.

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