2018 Parks Beach Safety Update

BEACH SAFETY PROGRAMS
PARK AGENCY COMPARISON

Information was collected through a series of email surveys from 2001 to 2018

Alberta

• Last updated, 2001
• Fish Creek Provincial Park is the only provincial park in Alberta that has
lifeguards on-site for the swimming area. The park, which is designated as
day-use only, is located within the City of Calgary. The swimming area,
Sikome Lake is a man-made facility. Lifeguard towers are situated around
the lake and are staffed by certified lifeguards employed by Alberta Parks.
The park gates are closed at 11:00 p.m. each night.
• In other provincial parks there is signage to inform the public that the beach
and swimming areas are unsupervised.
• There are no life saving devices immediately available to the public at
provincial park beaches.

British Columbia

• All provincial park beaches are signed advising of no lifeguards. At some
beaches there are buoys marking the swimming area. Ringed life saving
devices have been removed due to a high incidence of theft.
• There are messages at the campground offices and information kiosks
informing the public that there are no lifeguards on swimming beaches.

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Manitoba

• The Beach Safety Program in Manitoba Provincial Parks is primarily focused
on public relations and water safety education. Safety measures provided at
83 provincial park beaches include signage, beach safety brochures,
maintenance, buoy lines and risk management planning.
• Three provincial park beaches, Birds Hill, Grand Beach (West Beach) and
Winnipeg Beach (Main Beach), provide Beach Safety Officer services under
contract. Beach Safety Officers focus their efforts on public education,
preventative water safety interventions, emergency response, first aid and a
limited monitoring of swimmers only at Birds Hill Provincial Park.
• At St. Malo Provincial Park, the Beach Smart program includes park
interpreter delivery of water safety messaging to beach visitors; life preserver
ring stations with emergency alarms; and life jacket loan kiosks allowing park
visitors to borrow free lifejackets for use during recreational water activity.
• Over the years, the basic premise of the program has remained unchanged.
Individuals are responsible for themselves, their families and groups while on
provincial park beaches. Families are encouraged to keep children within
arms’ reach while at the beach.
• A Beach Safety Program Review was conducted over the 2016-17 season.
The review document provides a detailed summary of key program
components, and demonstrates the department’s continuing commitment to
public safety with implementation of a number of enhancements related to
emergency response, incident command, public education, and associated
operational functions.
https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/pdf/beach_safety_program_review_june_27_
2017.pdf
• Manitoba Provincial Parks continues work as an executive member of the
Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters (MCSW), an interagency group that
coordinates water and ice safety activities in Manitoba.
• Beach Safety Program equipment list

MB Parks Beach
Safety Equip List

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New Brunswick

• Last updated, 2016
• Mixture of supervised and unsupervised beaches.
• Signs and buoys present.
• Some public beach areas adjacent to marinas also have signs and buoys.

Newfoundland / Labrador

• Last updated, 2016
• Only a number of the province’s staffed parks have designated swimming
areas. Swimming is not “encouraged” in any areas but those designated.
Supervision is not provided.
• Park staff have access to a “water safety boat” with safety jackets, throwing
ring, push pole, reach pole, and oars. Staff are required to check designated
beaches on each shift.
• Posts near designated swimming areas provide public access to throwing
aids and reaching poles.
• “Unsupervised Swimming Area” signs are posted near designated swimming
areas. No boating areas are intended to protect swimmers from boat
collisions. Depth markers are placed in areas where swimming can be
hazardous.

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Northwest Territories

• Fred Henne Territorial Park is the only park that has beach attendants on-site
• Fred Henne and Hay River Territorial Parks (busiest swimming beaches in
the system) have
o Unmanned lifejacket loaner stations for public use
o Emergency telephones
o Rescue and life-saving equipment
o Designated roped off swimming areas
o Signage
• Fred Henne Territorial Park has depth markers to indicate where swimming is
hazardous.
• Water safety messaging is highlighted annually on the NWTParks.ca
website, as well as through social media and radio campaigns during
drowning prevention week in July.

Ontario

• While Ontario Parks does not provide lifeguards on beaches, information and
education promoting waterfront safety is provided to visitors. Beaches are
posted with notices that there are no lifeguards. Ontario Parks is currently
moving towards signage replacement using universal symbols.
• A lifejacket/personal floatation device loaner program is in place at over 70
provincial parks. This program provides park visitors the option of using a
lifejacket/personal floatation device at no charge.
• Many of the busiest provincial parks provide some staff presence on beaches
in the form of maintenance staff or park wardens. Some parks also have
emergency phones located on the beach.

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• There is a requirement to provide lifeguards at public swimming pools, and
Ontario Parks does so at the two pools it operates. There is no legal
requirement in Ontario to provide beach patrol at public beaches.
• Messages promoting water and boating safety have been incorporated into
park information guides which are distributed to visitors, through the Ontario
Parks website in blog articles and park signage located on beaches at
designated swimming areas.
• Ontario Parks is not responsible for marine search and rescue operations.
Parks Canada

• Last updated, 2001
• Parks Canada does not have a national policy on beach safety.
• The decision regarding the provision of beach safety services is left to the
discretion of individual parks. In recent years, most national parks have
gotten away from supervised beaches and simply posting the beach area as
unsupervised. Parks continuing to provide beach safety programs (e.g.
Prince Edward Island National Park) usually contract lifeguard organizations.
• Contracted lifeguard services at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba
were cancelled in 1991. There is now appropriate signing to inform that
beach areas are unsupervised. Various swimming areas in the park are
signed and/or have buoys. No special brochures have been developed
specific to beach safety.

Prince Edward Island

• PEI Provincial Parks has fully staffed “surfguards” at eight parks (i.e. six
camping and two day use).
• Surfguard programs employ three to six staff at each park with the program
(i.e. 29 staff overall). Surfguards must have National Lifeguard certification

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and are required to pass a two-day extensive surfguarding course and do
weekly in-service training.
• Beaches are guarded from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week from
July 1st to Labour Day. Beaches are staffed with two guards at all times.
• Beaches have lifeguard towers, roped-off areas for swimming and life saving
devices (i.e. paddle board, kayak, rescue buoys, throw bag, rescue can,
megaphone, spineboard/head immobilizer, first aid kit, blankets, binoculars).
• Beach signage addresses water temperature, surf conditions, air temp, times
when surfguards are off-duty, etc. Beaches are closed when surf conditions
are considered dangerous.
• Beach signage was developed in conjunction with PEI National Park to
ensure both federally and provincially operated beaches are informing
visitors of the same information in the same format.
• Provincial Parks has placed ‘rip current’ information in the Provincial Tourism
Visitor Guide (print and on-line). Rip current information and signage is also
available at beach locations.
• From July 1 to Labour Day, Provincial Parks provides beach reports on local
radio. Reports focus on surf conditions at beaches and direct visitors to a 1-
800 line and/or the web for current condition information.
• Information is updated throughout the day by Surf Guards.

Quebec

• Public beaches in Quebec are regulated by the Regulation Respecting Safety
in Public Baths, under the Building Act. The regulation requires that all
beaches have:
o Lifeguards (number depends on size of beach)
o Specific safety equipment including:
§ Non-motorized rescue boat

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§ Lifeguard tower
§ White buoy markers
§ Lifesaving buoy (ring or torpedo style)
§ First aid kit
§ Blanket
§ Means of communication for lifeguards
o Signage
§ Lifeguard on/off duty
§ Water depth at buoy line

• 5/24 national parks in Quebec have beaches with lifeguards
• There is access to lakes and rivers for swimming, but swimming outside of
official beaches is not encouraged.

Saskatchewan

• All beaches in Saskatchewan’s provincial parks are unsupervised without
lifeguards on duty. Appropriate signage informs visitors that the beach areas
are unsupervised.
• The Ministry of Park, Culture and Sport has been working closely with the
Saskatchewan branch of the Lifesaving Society on waterfront safety
initiatives.
• In 2016 a Life jacket Loaner Station program was implemented at five popular
beaches. In 2018 the program was expanded to eight locations with further
expansion expected in 2019.
• In 2017 the Lifesaving Society completed an Aquatic Safety Audit Report of
two provincial park beaches with the intent of providing base line data and
identifying best practices that might be implemented to minimize the risk of
drowning or serious water-related injuries in Saskatchewan parks.

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• In the spring of 2017 an internal beach safety committee recommended all
provincial parks should have one or more well-situated safety throwing
devices.
• In August 2018 the first draft of an awareness and information-based
waterfront safety program was completed. The timing of implementation is still
to be determined.
• In 2017 Saskatchewan parks began purchasing beach friendly wheelchairs
for people with mobility challenges. As of 2018 the province maintains an
inventory of eleven wheelchairs. The chairs can be transferred around
regions and have proven to be popular. More information can be found at

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-accessibility-beach-wheelchairs-1.4204540

Yukon

• Last updated, 2001
• Beach swimming is practically non-existent in Yukon parks. No beach safety
program exists.