Disappointed parents say they may train to become lifeguards after the City of Yellowknife cancelled a significant number of its swim classes for kids.

The City apologized for the cancellations in a brief news release on Thursday, saying the pool is too short-staffed to run its swim programs as intended. A waitlist has been set up instead.

“Once staff resources are replenished, more classes will be created and those on the waitlist will be contacted first for registration,” read the City’s statement.

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Registration for swimming lessons is one of the most hotly contested events of the year in Yellowknife, with limited places available even before this year’s staffing crunch.

“The spots were even tougher than snagging burlesque tickets – and that’s saying a lot,” said Yellowknife parent Maureen Van Overliw, referring to Brrrlesque, a local annual event famous for selling out in seconds.

“It is harder than getting tickets to your favourite concert,” she told Cabin Radio. “As a parent, this registration process is probably one of the most stressful times of the year. We all start gearing up.for it weeks beforehand.

“Parents stayed home from work to register their kids, or rushed their kids into the doors of school quickly on their first day, just to snag a coveted lesson spot.

“Now to learn that we aren’t sufficiently resourced to satisfy a very limited number of lessons [is] a pretty frustrating situation for all.”

‘Part of the solution’

Van Overliw says a group of parents is now seriously considering lifeguard training in order to support City staff in future and provide more capacity.

“Many of the moms are getting so frustrated that we’re actually considering becoming lifeguards ourselves,” she said.

“Sometimes you just have to become part of the solution.

“It’s normally a teenager thing but for some reason, our resources are short so we figure we may as well dive in.”

Anyone interested in the parents’ plan to set up lifeguard training can find out more by joining the Northern Maternity/Paternity Facebook group.

The City does offer lifeguard training and provides details about the qualifications required on its website. The next national lifeguard certification course is scheduled for early December.

In its statement, the City said: “We apologize for the reduced access and are taking these measures for the safety of swimmers. The City is working diligently to recruit qualified staff so that we can provide the level of service advertised.”