Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit July 13, 2017 - 10:00 am

Understaffed Nunavut pool turning pass holders away, says youth

Iqaluit's Cassiar Cousins says expensive annual pass worthless without ample lifeguards

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern, left, with 11-year-old Cassiar Cousins and recreation committee chair Coun. Joanasie Akumalik. Cousins attended a city council meeting, July 11, to ask the city to hire more lifeguards at the Aquatic Centre during peak times, so paying pass holders are not turned away. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern, left, with 11-year-old Cassiar Cousins and recreation committee chair Coun. Joanasie Akumalik. Cousins attended a city council meeting, July 11, to ask the city to hire more lifeguards at the Aquatic Centre during peak times, so paying pass holders are not turned away. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Families who have paid for monthly and annual passes at Iqaluit’s fancy new Aquatic Centre say they can’t always use the pool on weekends because of understaffing.

We know this because of Cassiar Cousins, age 11.

Concerned by the limitations at what is otherwise one of her favourite hang-outs in town, Cousins wrote a letter to the City to let councillors know that the centre is turning away paying customers when there aren’t enough lifeguards at pool side.

Mayor Madeleine Redfern read Cousins’ letter at a city council meeting, July 11.

“It has been noticed by my fellow classmates that when we go to the pool and have the family yearly pass, we can’t go in sometimes because it is too full, the lifeguards say,” Cousins’ letter reads.

The letter goes on to request the city hire more lifeguards or offer a reimbursement to compensate pass holders who aren’t able to use the pool when it’s at capacity due to understaffing. 

“We have spent a lot of money on the family yearly passes. We find that it is a waste of money that we can have to use on food or to help someone in need… I hope you can fix this,” wrote Cousins.

The annual family pass, for pool use alone, is $1,680, for a maximum of five people. The monthly family pass pool fee is $168. For the pool and fitness centre combined, the annual family rate is $2,100.

Cousins, who is on her school student council, attended the July 11 council meeting, waiting two hours before her request was addressed. Councillors welcomed her with applause.

“The times it might be too full would be the family swim on the weekends, on the weekends for public swim or sometimes on Friday,” the youth told Nunatsiaq News following the meeting, adding that the problem has existed ever since the pool opened.

She said she’s grateful for the new public space, and visits the pool regularly with her friends.

Cousins’ letter requesting more staff at the pool comes only a few weeks after the city let go its roster of volunteer fitness instructors after the group threatened to leave en masse unless concerns were met regarding health and safety issues, insurance coverage and class fees.

Since the volunteers have been discharged, the schedule for fitness classes in the pool has thinned considerably.

There is, however, lifeguard skill development at the Aquatic Centre on Sunday evenings.

Redfern thanked Cousins for raising the issue. The mayor said similar letters have been received by the city but were not translated in time to be presented at council.

With the Aquatic Centre nearing at its sixth month of operations, deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson said it’s no surprise that start-up wrinkles still need to be ironed out.

“We’re pretty happy that the pool is too full because it means it is being used. It means kids want to go,” Stevenson said, adding that reorganizing staffing to match demand will be a priority moving forward.

Cousins’ letter, and similar submissions, are expected to be addressed at the next meeting of the recreation committee.

“I think it’s important that [committee members] see how decisions impact our youth and the community,” said Coun. Jason Rochon.

Coun. Joanasie Akumalik, who is chair of the recreation committee, asked Cousins to attend and speak at the upcoming meeting.

He also asked Cousins if she would consider becoming a lifeguard herself, so she could someday work at the Aquatic Centre.

Cousins said she’d think about it. 

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(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by Alleyak on July 13, 2017

What happened to all those High School students that were sent down to Ottawa last year? I haven’t seen any of those students hired as life guards.

#2. Posted by pissed off on July 13, 2017

the City people should remember that when you sell a yearly or monthly pass, you enter into a contract to provide the service anytime , all the time within the operating hours. The people pay in advance for that service and you have to deliver.

Thank you

#3. Posted by Wake up! on July 13, 2017

The pool is NOT full. Earth to councillors! If you had the right amount of staff more kids could get in the pool. Also my kids get so excited on swim days to use the waterslide but its often turned off because their isn’t enough staff. Its such a disappointment for children to be turned away because “its too full.” Councillors who believe the pool is too full are doing a diservice to the new aquatic centre. My kids went from driving me nuts to wanting to go all the time to not wanting to go. run it right please.

#4. Posted by our youth of tomorrow on July 13, 2017

At 11 years of age Cassiar Cousins has knowledge about the high cost of food and the people in need.  This young bright star would have been happy in a 15 million dollar pool with a little money left over for food and helping one in need.

#5. Posted by Not surprised on July 13, 2017

This comes as no surprise. This is the normal practice for everything the city does. Charge more and deliver less.  It’s just another example of poor management and planning.

#6. Posted by Inside joke on July 13, 2017

#1 They did what everyone in Nunavut does, ride the free training train, get paid for it most likely, then onto the next adventure. There was probably never any intention of actually working or putting that training to use. I see it all the time.

#7. Posted by swimmer on July 14, 2017

i attend the pool on a regular basis. I have an annual pass. If i want to ensure entry to the pool i arrive early and line up.
the current practice is first come first serve.

#8. Posted by HUH? on July 14, 2017

The smart little lady comes in tells them its not full but because of not enough staff they cant let people in and city counillors say Yay its full, its being used!!!!

Get a clue City Council

#9. Posted by Native on July 14, 2017

Didn’t they just fire all the volunteers?

#10. Posted by Entitlement Culture on July 14, 2017

Agree with “inside joke”. Social media is full of people travelling the world on the people’s dime, on the premise of promoting volunteerism, social justice, cultural expansion, training etc. The same people are always in some exotic locale for some conference or summit or panel. Yet when the time comes to share knowledge and contribute or volunteer, these same people are nowhere to be found.“Take advantage” is the motto of this bunch.

#11. Posted by David on July 14, 2017

So Iqaluit is having a hard time staffing the pool with qualified people. Who would have thought that finding trained people to work for low wages or volunteer would be tough??

Yes, that was sarcasm.

This pool was so poorly planned from the very beginning

#12. Posted by Wannabe on July 14, 2017

City of Iqaluit staff need to set working team workforce. When you are servicing as Municipality you have to run any infrastructure by planning. You have to survive and live out your potentials to providing to the fullest. Otherwise you can’t prove anything. Huh!

#13. Posted by lolz on July 14, 2017

#12 What did you just say?


#14. Posted by dudley do right on July 16, 2017

Here’s an IDEA!!!!! How about if you work there you and your family can swim for free.

#15. Posted by good idea-already tried on July 17, 2017

#14 A psychological question asked on one page and the same question asked mixing words around on another page to provide the same answer - “how about be a volunteer?”

#16. Posted by wondering on July 17, 2017

#!2 what have you been smoking?

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