This coming Sunday would have been the last day on duty for Barrie’s lifeguards at Centennial and Johnson’s beaches.
However, the city changed that at this week's council meeting, giving families a bit more time to enjoy the water.
The city will extend lifeguarding on the only two supervised beaches in the city this year from the previous deadline of Sunday, Aug. 18 to Friday, Aug. 23.
The idea was championed by Coun. Gary Harvey and supported unanimously.
Mayor Jeff Lehman explained why the city has historically had to cut short the job, leaving many beach-goers upset.
“Every year, we announce that the lifeguards are finishing their activities and every year we get complaints,” said Lehman.
“Often our residents don’t understand with what appears to be two weeks of summer left and kids off school, we stop the lifeguarding," the mayor explained. "It is difficult for us to staff the last days of summer because the lifeguards are students and they go off to college or university.”
Lehman pointed out that with the waterfront along Centennial Beach having been redone recently, the city’s main beach is busier than past years and an extension for lifeguards would go a long way for those looking to enjoy it.
The mayor did question why the extension was only five days and not right through the summer to allow people to use the beach until kids go back to school.
Dawn McAlpine, the general manager of the city's community and corporate services, said the numbers just weren’t there.
“We did survey the guards who were hired this summer and we didn’t have sufficient numbers that would extend all the way to Labour Day,” said McAlpine. “It wasn’t part of the original position posting, so they weren’t prepared for that.”
The cost to extend to Aug. 23 is approximately $7,000, which will be funded by the Council Strategic Priorities Reserve. To extend the service until Labour Day would have cost an estimated $30,000.
Should the extension of the lifeguard positions happen in following years, the posting will include being available longer through the summer.