All condominium pools in Ontario are considered public pools and are regulated under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, unless the condominium corporation has less than 5 units or the pool is less than 0.75 metres in depth.
The following is only an overview of some of the important points to keep in mind when owning and operating a condominium pool:
- All surface of the pool deck shall be maintained in a sanitary condition and free from hazards;
- The owner/operator of the pool (that is the corporation) shall ensure that the number of permitted bathers on deck and in the pool does not exceed the maximum allowed;
- There shall be an accessible telephone for emergency use no further than 30 metres from the pool. The telephone must be tested every day prior to opening the pool to bathers;
- There shall be a public address system in good working conditions, which is clearly audible in all areas of the pool;
- Written emergency and operational procedures must be posted;
- When the pool is not opened for use, the pool should be rendered absolutely inaccessible (for instance by de-activating the fob system or by locking any access to the pool);
- The water must be kept free from contaminants that may be injurious to the health of bathers. It must be treated with chlorine, a chlorine compound or a bromine compound. The applicable regulation identifies the specific levels of alkalinity and ph balance required in the water. The water must be tested prior to the opening of the pool to bathers and at regular specified intervals. The results of these tests must be recorded and maintained for a year. Provisions are also made for the safe storage and handling of chemicals required in the operation of the pool;
- The filtering system must be maintained in proper working order and must be in continuous operation, except during maintenance or when a closure of more than 7 days is anticipated;
- A black disc on a white background must be affixed to the bottom of the pool, at its deepest point. The clarity of the water and the illumination of the pool area must be such that this disk is visible from any point on the deck, nine metres away from the disc;
- There are strict lifeguard requirements. Condominium pools with a water surface area of 93 square metres or less, are exempt from these requirements provided that a prescribed caution sign is posted to the effect that the pool is unsupervised; and,
- If the pool is equipped with a diving board/platform, it must be equipped with a non-slip surface finish. If the platform is of a height greater than 3 metres above the water, it must be gated and locked when not in use. When in use, the pool shall be solely used for diving purposes, unless the proper barrier is set separating swimmers and divers.
While the operator of a pool does not have to provide change rooms, toilets or showering facilities, when these are provided, they must kept clean, free from slipperiness or obstructions, disinfected and properly ventilated. Toilet paper must also be provided if you are going to provide access to toilets. If towels are provided, they shall be clean, disinfected and stored in a sanitary manner.
The requirements pertaining to the ownership, maintenance and operation of public pools are numerous and quite technical. Condominium directors should familiarize themselves with, and regularly review, the applicable provincial regulation and any municipal by-laws.
Finally, keep in mind that the condominium corporation is considered to be the “occupier” under the Occupiers Liability Act. As such, the corporation has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of all occupants and visitors of the condominium complex. Something to keep in mind when operating a pool.