June 7, 2017

Prepared by Paul Lalonde, Articling Student

Summer weather in Ottawa is almost here. As the mercury rises and the days get longer, many residents will begin prepping their backyard pools for the summer while others may be considering building or installing a pool or hot tub for the first time. Many residents may be surprised to learn that the City of Ottawa has implemented pool enclosure by-laws to promote pool safety for all residents. Residents shouldn’t tread water when it comes to pool safety this summer, so let’s dive into the by-laws:

Pursuant to By-law No. 2013-39 (and as amended by By-law No. 2014-115) every owner of a privately owned outdoor pool must erect and maintain an enclosure around their pool. According to the by-law a pool means an “outdoor pool of water for swimming, bathing, wading or reflecting, including any Hot tub, which is capable of retaining a water depth equal to or greater than 600 mm at any point”. The by-law provides that enclosures must be designed and installed to reasonably deter young children from gaining access to the pool area. The fence must be at least 1.5 m tall and must comply with the minimum construction specifications detailed. Residents should consult the enclosure requirements and minimum construction specifications in the by-law to ensure proper compliance.

Moreover, there are further specifications for gates and doors in the pool enclosure. All gates in the pool enclosure must be self-closing and equipped with a self-latching device and a lock located at least 1.35 m above the bottom of the enclosure. Residents should make note that the pool enclosure must be locked at all times, except when the enclosed pool area is in use. Residents should also note that it is prohibited to place, pile or attach any objects, material or equipment against or near an enclosure so as to facilitate climbing of the enclosure or diminish it’s structural integrity. Enclosure specifications do not apply to doors or windows of a dwelling that form part of the enclosure. Similarly, hot tub owners must also comply with pool enclosure specifications unless the hot tub is equipped with a permanently attached lockable safety cover capable of supporting a 90 kg load.     

Residents wishing to install a pool who already have an existing fence around their yard will still have to apply for a pool enclosure permit to ensure the fence meets the minimum requirements of the by-law. Failure to comply may lead to an Order requiring the owner of the property to empty the pool and/or carry out such work as may be required to correct the contravention. In addition, by-law offenders may also be convicted of an offence and are liable to pay a fine ranging from $500 to $100,000. 

Whether you’re a first-time pool owner or have been sitting poolside for years, you should be sure to consult and comply with these by-laws before your next cannonball.

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