A new regional partnership will have Okotoks running lifeguard and front-end services at Turner Valley’s outdoor pool.
Both Turner Valley and Okotoks councils agreed to have scheduling and training of lifeguards, as well as booking of pool times at Dr. Lander Memorial Pool, managed by Okotoks in a new pilot project.
Barry Crane, mayor of Turner Valley, said it’s a win-win situation, riding on the success of the waste services partnership between the two municipalities last year.
“This one looks to find efficiencies in the delivery of the lifeguarding services, so the front-end services,” said Crane.
He said ordinarily, lifeguard staff often worked between the Okotoks and Turner Valley pools, and the partnership will allow for efficiencies in managing work schedules and job training, reducing some duplications.
Turner Valley agreed to provide Okotoks a management fee that met its budget allotment for pool operations, he said.
“We let Okotoks know that was our budget and they agreed to meet that budget,” said Crane. “Of course being a first year, this will be the perfect example year to find out what worked and what didn’t work.
“If there’s anything that’s really out of play, we can always tweak that as good neighbours always do.”
He said Turner Valley will maintain its regular maintenance responsibilities at the pool.
One part of the agreement he’s excited about is the opportunity to tap into Okotoks’ booking software, which Okotoks residents were able to use in 2020 to reserve family time slots in different areas of its indoor pool.
Now, residents of Black Diamond and Turner Valley will be provided the same access to indoor swim times, and Okotoks residents will be able to book outdoor pool time, he said.
“That’s a major win for our community, and Okotoks as well,” said Crane.
Daniel Robinson, aquatics team lead for the Town of Okotoks, said the joint agreement will be in place for three years, with annual review.
He said sharing staff and booking software makes sense on a regional level.
“There’s a point of us being able to go out and provide regional aquatics service level, so everyone within our community and region has the same expectations when they come to any aquatic centre,” said Robinson.
Okotoks Coun. Tanya Thorn said she was excited about the project.
“I love this initiative,” said Thorn. “This is regionalization at its finest.”
She said finding efficiencies and effectiveness for both communities, while putting software capabilities to use, makes good sense for Okotoks and Turner Valley.
Having the ability to schedule staff between two facilities is better than competing for staff time in neighbouring towns, she said.
“This is why I’m such a proponent of regional initiatives and regionalization in itself,” said Thorn. “This is about looking at better ways and more effective ways to work together as partners and make sure there’s benefits on both sides of the fence.
“I think this is a great opportunity going forward and I’m excited to see us starting more of these types of initiatives.”