A reprieve to secure your pool, but a regulation still criticized in Gatineau

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A reprieve to secure your swimming pool, but a regulation still criticized in Gatineau

Pool owners will have two more years to comply with the new provincial regulation.

The Quebec government announced in early July that pool owners will have two more years to comply with residential pool safety regulations. A welcome reprieve, according to Lucerne district councilor Gilles Chagnon, although the new rules have their detractors.

Initially, pool owners had until July 1, 2023 to comply with the new regulations. Now, that deadline is pushed back to September 30, 2025, as labor shortages, combined with supply challenges and lumber costs, have passed that way.

This postponement is welcomed by Gatineau City Councilor Gilles Chagnon, who believes it will give more time to residents who will have to incur expenses to comply with the new rules.

Knowing that there is still a shortage of labor and equipment, it put a lot of pressure on [the residents]. So there, we just gave them a little more time to become compliant. So I think it's a good decision, he said.

Gatineau City Councilor Gilles Chagnon ( archives)

However, the director general of the Quebec Lifesaving Society, Raynald Hawkins, recommends not waiting until the last minute to make the necessary changes.

Don't make the mistake of thinking prices will go down. Take the time to shop with suppliers now. There are already companies that have told us that they have a large enough inventory to meet demand. […] And make sure you can be compliant by checking with your municipal officer the compliance you need to put in place. Because sometimes it's not as much the fourth side for the inground pool that would be enough, it might just be to surround the balcony with an automatic closing system.

< p class="e-p">The first provincial regulation aimed at reducing the risk of drowning of young children by providing in particular that access to a swimming pool must be secured by an enclosure and by specifying the applicable standards dates from 2010.

In 2021, the Government of Quebec decided to update it, notably following the recommendations of five coroners, following investigations into the drownings of young children that occurred between 2011 and 2016, who recommended broadening its scope to existing pools.

For in-ground, semi-inground and above-ground pools with a wall of less than 1.2 meters, upgrading would mainly involve the installation an enclosure around the swimming pool.

For above-ground pools with a wall of 1.2 meters or more, upgrading involves securing access to the pool by means of an enclosure installed on the part of the pool. a terrace opening onto the pool or by means of an enclosure preventing access to a platform leading to the pool, or by means of a ladder equipped with a safety door that closes and locks automatically.

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The time allowed to comply with the new measures does not change the principle that guides them, according to Mr. Hawkins.

The principle is the same, it is that it is the swimming pool must be made inaccessible, whether it is above ground or inground, depending on the neighborhood – what the majority of municipal regulations provided for at the time – and now, also, depending on the residence.

< p class="e-p">Because, according to the director general of the Quebec Lifesaving Society, the majority of drownings observed in residential swimming pools concern young children who have been able to go swimming there without supervision or seniors.

Lifesaving Society Executive Director Raynald Hawkins (archive)

And here, I'm not talking about the child who climbed the ramp or the child who managed to sneak somewhere. No, it was really accessibility that was the determining factor.

He therefore judges that the new measures will help limit drownings.

However, the new rules are not unanimous among owners, in particular because of the costs associated with them.

The decision also signals the end of an acquired right for facilities built before 2010. An online petition asking the government to transfer the obligation to future owners has collected nearly 14,000 signatures.

To the owners who tell me: “You know, I don't have young children anymore, so I don't have that need any more”, I answer them: “Maybe you will receive guests and unfortunately it is one of the young child guests who will end up [in this situation]”. And besides, it is part of the recommendations of the World Health Organization [WHO]. The WHO published its global report on drowning prevention in 2014 and it dictated that where there are bodies of water, we should make sure to properly surround the yard back from swimming pools or, in some countries, bodies of water where there are nurseries.

Councilor Chagnon explains that he received calls from a dozen citizens who wanted to know more about the new regulations and their obligations.

Because it is the municipalities that are responsible for its application. The City of Gatineau therefore decided to harmonize its regulations with those of the province last year.

While he supports the principle, the elected official regrets that the new measures are less severe than those previously imposed by the Municipality.

Carole Bonhomme, owner of a swimming pool in Gatineau, is shocked to see that she will have to pay to make her pool comply with Quebec regulations. “If I had known 15 years ago that I would have to comply with this, I wouldn't have had a swimming pool. My yard is very small. The swimming pool covers 90% of the area of ​​the yard, which is locked. But I can't have a fence around the pool as well: too small! “

“I would have to barricade my yard.” »

— Carole Bonhomme, pool owner

For Gary Larcher, resident of Gatineau, this is an expensive change, despite the extension granted by the town. “I have friends who have done it, it cost them $5-10k in closing. I don't know how I'll manage, but we'll see,” he said. “Maybe we will find ways to protect our children without spending $10,000,” adds Mr. Larcher, adding that he is otherwise completely in agreement with the settlement. .

Over the past four years, as of July 28, 2022, Gatineau has issued 2,473 swimming pool construction permits. Between 2019 and 2022, the City recorded 187 swimming pool safety by-law violations.

In Ottawa, tougher rules for private pools were enacted in 2013.< /p>

With information from Nathalie Tremblay

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