Pools and hot tubs

Swimming Pool Bylaw

The Swimming Pool Bylaw states that people shall not fill or leave water in a swimming pool or a hot tub if it is not protected as per the bylaw. The bylaw covers, among other things, the installation of fencing around pools, protection of window and door openings of a home if using the house wall as part of the fence enclosure, safety equipment and signage.

A pool is described in Bylaw (2019) – 20408 as “an artificial outdoor body of water, including a swimming pool, capable of containing water at least 0.6 metres deep”. This includes hot tubs, in-ground and above ground pools and inflatable pools.

Please refer to the homeowner pool checklist and hot tub checklist for detailed information about the bylaw regulations.

Permit requirements

  • You can apply online by registering for an account at guelph.ca/building.
  • Complete and sign the permit application when applying in person. The required fee must be submitted with the permit application.
  • Submit a copy of the lot survey showing the location, shape and size of the proposed pool/hot tub.
  • Indicate pool fence and gate locations where applicable.
  • Indicate any hardscaping with distance to the property lines.
  • Indicate the distance from the edge of pool and/or hot tub to all property lines.
  • Sketch on the survey all accessory structures (decks, sheds, and garages) with dimensions, whether these are existing or proposed.
  • Submit pool specifications (from pool contractor) – indicate actual square footage of water.
  • Provide manufacturers specifications for the pool design including confirmation the design complies with entrapment avoidance and suction fitting requirements.
  • Provide manufactures specifications for proposed covers and alarms, if applicable.

Note: Replacement fences and replacement pools require a permit.

Zoning

All swimming pools and hot tubs must comply with Zoning regulations. These requirements include:

  • Cannot be in a front or required exterior side yard
  • Permitted in the exterior side yard when located behind the rear wall of the main building and in compliance with sightline regulations
  • Must be setback a minimum of 1.5 metres (4.92’) from the property line
  • Wood decking (below 0.6 m high), concrete and other hardscaping are required to be 0.6 m to the property lines
  • Decking around pool 0.6 m or higher is required to be 1.5 m from the property lines
  • For hot tubs being located on decks that are more than 0.6m above grade, you will need to provide Engineered stamped drawings for the deck to verify that the structure is capable of supporting the additional loads imposed by the placement of the hot tub. A separate deck permit may be required.

Swimming pools

In-ground, above ground, on-ground or inflatable pools

  • The pool or yard must have a fence with a minimum height of 1.5 metres (4’11”), measured from ground level to the top of the fence.
  • The type of pool fencing allowed is described in the pool checklist.
  • At least one self-closing and self-latching gate must be provided.

If the pool is not surrounded by a four-sided fence but a building wall forms part of the fence enclosure, please see the bylaw or the homeowner’s checklist for specifics regarding protecting every opening providing direct access to the pool (sliding doors, swinging doors and openable windows).

Pool equipment

  • A Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada approved safety sign must be posted in a clearly visible location
  • The electrical system serving the pool cannot be actively used before written approval for use has been received from the Electrical Safety Authority and the City Inspector.
  • Pool chemicals must be stored in a safe, vented and locked container or in a building out of the reach of children.
  • A rescue pole at least 4.9 m in length equipped with a shepherd’s crook OR a Canadian Coast Guard approved life ring buoy (at least 0.6 m in diameter) attached to a buoyant line at least 15 m long is mounted in a clearly visible location within 3 m of the pool.
A number of large inflatable pools are capable of maintaining a depth of water of 600 millimeters (23½ inches) or greater. For the protection of all citizens, especially children, if you own this type of swimming pool, or are considering purchasing one, you must obtain a permit and install an approved enclosure (fencing) prior to installation.

Hot tubs

  • Has a compliant safety cover (provide manufacturers specifications) or must be enclosed completely by a fence and/or house wall.
  • A Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada approved safety sign must be posted in a clearly visible location
  • The electrical system serving the hot tub cannot be actively used before written approval for use has been received from the Electrical Safety Authority and the City inspector.
  • Hot tub chemicals must be stored in a safe, vented and locked container or in a building out of the reach of children.

Ponds

Building permits are not required for decorative ponds. Water contained in decorative ponds and bird baths must be changed every four days or be equipped with a pump to prevent standing water in accordance with City of Guelph Standing Water Bylaw (2003)-17192

Fencing

  • The owner shall ensure that no pool or hot tub equipment or any other item is attached to, or placed within 0.6 m of the exterior of a fence, if it might:
    • Facilitate climbing over the fence or into the pool or hot tub; or
    • Diminish the structural integrity of the fence, pool or hot tub
  • Has no barbed wire or electric current through any portion of the fence
  • Has a maximum opening of 100 mm between the bottom of the fence and the ground

House wall openings

If the pool or hot tub enclosure includes a house wall with direct access to the pool/hot tub, the following steps must be followed:

Every swinging person door must be:

  • Equipped with a self-closing and self-latching device that automatically returns the swinging door to the closed and latched position from a 150 mm open position;
  • Clear of any obstruction or other means that could hold the swinging door open; and
  • Equipped with a compliant audible alarm.

Every sliding door must be equipped with a compliant audible alarm.

Every openable window (other than a fire egress window) located less than 1.4 m above the finished floor surface, must have at least one of the following:

  • A secure screen;
  • A device that limits its initial opening width to100 mm, and if such device has a manual over-ride (as opposed to an over-ride that requires a key or other specialized tool to operate it), an over-ride which is located less than 1.4 m above the finished floor surface; OR
  • A compliant audible alarm.

A fire egress window must be equipped with:

  • a secure screen or a compliant audible alarm; and
  • not equipped with a device that limits its initial opening width.

The bylaw also has details for temporary fencing where a compliant pool fence is not in place before installing an above-ground pool and prior to excavating for an in-ground pool.

Gates

  • At least one gate is provided
  • Complies with all the requirements of a fence set out in the bylaw
  • Is self-closing and self-latching
  • Automatically returns the gate to the closed and latched position from a 150 mm open position
  • If the latch release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 1.4 m from the bottom of the gate, it must have a latch release mechanism that is at least 75 milimetres below the top of the gate and on the side of the gate facing the pool;
  • Has no opening within 0.45 metres from the latch release mechanism that is greater than 12 milimetres in width
  • Is clear of any obstruction or any other means that could hold the gate open.