‘It’s ridiculous’: Leisure Guide website belly flops on swim lesson day
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/08/2022 (282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Karly Mooney got up early Tuesday to dive in front of her computer, hoping to snag a swimming lesson spot for her son.
It didn’t go swimmingly: her efforts (and those of countless others) were submerged when the City of Winnipeg’s Leisure Guide website belly flopped just minutes after it came online at 8 a.m.
The company which has been running the website since 2015 (Texas-based Active Network) was able to get the crashed site up and running by noon, leaving many Winnipeggers angry at what they believe is a perennial problem trying to book swim and skating lessons, and other activities the city runs.
“It’s just so discouraging,” Mooney said shortly after finally getting her son, Kane, booked into a French-language swim lesson.
“You want to get your kid into an activity and (the website) suddenly doesn’t work. There is a lot of frustration. I’ve been trying to get my (almost) six-year-old into swimming lessons for five years now and haven’t been able to. You cannot call a pool, and I even had some friends go to a pool and they were told, sorry, our system is down.
“It just seems the city doesn’t do enough to fix it.”
About two hours after the website crashed Tuesday, the first morning it was accepting bookings for swim lessons, the city sent out a message on social media saying it was having technical difficulties.
“There is a lot of frustration. I’ve been trying to get my (almost) six-year-old into swimming lessons for five years now and haven’t been able to.” – Karly Mooney
Shortly after, a news release was issued: “Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen technical issue with our third-party vendor affecting clients throughout Canada, many users were not able to access the online registration system. It was incredibly unfortunate timing, as it coincided with the opening of Leisure Guide registration, and was out of our control. As such, we had to temporarily suspend registration.”
The city reminded residents they can also book spots via 311, in person at 395 Main St. (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or at any indoor pool (except for the closed Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex and St. James Civic Centre) during operating hours.
Active Network could not be reached for comment.
Several parents said the problems with the city’s booking system reminds them of the issues the provincial government has had with its online campsite booking system (also handled by a third-party vendor). Last year, many people complained, after a long wait in the queue to book a campsite, a computer glitch would knock them out of the system, forcing them to start at the back of the line again.
“Other times are bad, but the September one especially always seems to be super brutal. And when it went down you had no idea when it was going to come up again. Later today? Tomorrow? Give us a clue.” – Tracey Rigaux
A provincial spokesperson said Tuesday the company which handles its campsite booking system is not Active Network.
Tracey Rigaux said she took time off work for part of the morning to register her two children in swimming lessons. For hours, it seemed to be a waste of time. She finally got them enrolled after the site came up again in the afternoon.
“It’s ridiculous and it is only getting worse and worse,” Rigaux said. “Other times are bad, but the September one especially always seems to be super brutal. And when it went down you had no idea when it was going to come up again. Later today? Tomorrow? Give us a clue.”
Coun. Sherri Rollins, chairwoman of the civic protection and parks committee, said her phone started ringing and emails started flowing in when the website crashed.
Rollins said it wasn’t just Winnipeg which was affected, adding she had heard other cities, including Kitchener and Whitby, Ont., were also hit by the outage.
“The company in Texas was supposed to be providing solutions for us,” she said. “We know for parents who are taking time off work it is a huge inconvenience.
“I’m not happy with the system. The system didn’t work for parents, and it needs to.”
Coun. Jeff Browaty called the crash “embarrassing.
“There are so many systems that work. If you can order pizza and Backstreet Boys tickets and it is okay. Why is it always a problem for us?” – Coun. Jeff Browaty
“In 2022, a website for Leisure Guide registration should just work,” Browaty said. “It is embarrassing that this continues to be a continual problem. If it happens once, it is a problem. But this seems to be perpetual.
“There are so many systems that work. If you can order pizza and Backstreet Boys tickets and it is okay. Why is it always a problem for us?”
At the Elmwood Kildonans Pool, Randean Kopytko sat Tuesday on a wooden bench as her son, Everest, sat beside her, kicking his feet which did not quite reach the ground.
Kopytko came to the pool in-person to register the seven-year-old for swimming lessons, after city staff were unable to sign her up via phone that morning.
“Just as they were trying to enroll me… the system crashed,” she said. “Of course, I don’t think it’s ideal, but I have faith in the City of Winnipeg. I think they are doing the best that they can.
“You just sort of have to go with the flow… We are in this collectively as a group and try to conduct yourself with grace and dignity.”
— with files from Tyler Searle
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 7:59 PM CDT: Corrects spelling of Karly in cutline