Compiled by Jason Cramp
A Quebec coroner is suggesting the province amend its Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (L.R.Q., c. S-3.1.02,a.1) after completing an investigation into the drowning of a young boy in 2012.
The act, which became law in 2010, only applies to new or renovated inground or onground swimming pools (including soft-sided, inflatable types) and requires the following:
• Four-sided fencing at least 1.2 m (4 ft) in height with no openings big enough to allow the passage of an object measuring 100 mm (4 in.) or larger with a self-closing, self-locking gate (shrubs and hedges are not considered enclosures);
• Equipment such as pool heaters or filters must be installed more than 1 m (3.2 ft) away from an above-ground or soft-sided/inflatable pool;
• All inground and onground pools must be equipped with a ladder or steps for easy entry and exit;
• Above-ground pools with a wall that is at least 1.2 m (4 ft) high do not need an enclosure if the pool is only accessible by a ladder closed off by a locked door; and
• A municipal building permit is required for any pool construction, installation or replacement, or for any construction allowing access to a pool. (Soft-sided and inflatable pools only require a permit the first time they are set up, as long as the pool is assembled in the same place and under the same conditions each year.)
However, according to a CBC News report, the coroner, Denyse Langelier, made the following recommendations to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy:
• Modify residential pool safety regulations so the standards apply to all pools in the province, regardless of their installation date; and
• Allow a two-year delay for people who owned pools installed before July 22, 2010 to conform to security standards.
Robert Wood, Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC) executive director, responded in a radio interview with Kate McGillivray on CBC Radio One’s Homerun noting the retroactive application of the law is good as safety is important whether a swimming pool is new or old.
“The other side of this is the idea of locking gates, which some communities have gone for, as long as it’s not taken in isolation,” he told McGillivray. “We’ve seen situations across North America where there is a jurisdiction that’s enforced one specific rule, and not allowed options for the homeowner, there have been problems.
“If you do not allow a homeowner an option they are happy with, they will use human nature and tend to ignore it… people become complacent about one solution; therefore, as an organization, we much prefer promoting a layered approach.”
Wood went on to say there are some new technologies available to homeowners, such as automatic safety covers and door/gate alarms.
“It is a combination of these things that we are promoting, but at the end of the day, the most important thing that we cannot forget is adult supervision. You have to be vigilant and you can’t get complacent,” he added.
Wood also discussed the PHTCC’s safety initiatives, which include public service announcements, which appear in local cinemas and on radio stations that promote pool safety.
Raynald Hawkins, general director of the Quebec Lifesaving Society, told CBC News he hopes the Quebec government is quick to endorse the coroner’s recommendations. According to Hawkins, there were 50 drownings in the province last year, the lowest in the past 20 years.
Listen to Robert Wood’s interview in its entirety here.