It is with great sorrow that Canadian families are stricken by the grief associated with swimming pool tragedies each year. The majority of these accidents involve drownings in residential settings and particularly affect young children ages 1 to 3 years old. Most of these misfortunes are preventable with the correct precautionary measures regarding securing the pool safely from involuntary mishaps.

Although barriers can never replace adult supervision and not the sole method to prevent drowning of young children in pools, they do have a dramatic impact on lessening the possibilities of a tragedy happening.

In this post, we are going to look at the new “fence within a fence rule” that is being enacted in municipalities in Ontario. In Particular, we will look at the proposed new “Pool Enclosures By-law” for the City of Hamilton and what affect is has on landscaping your newly defined boundary.

The reason for this change came about, not only update and clarify the existing by-law content, but to incorporate several recommendations by the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario contained in the Drowning Review Report of June 2011.

The New By-law Proposal: (source-City of Hamilton)

Although you do not need a Building Permit to install a swimming pool in the City of Hamilton, you do need a Building Permit to construct the fence. The pool enclosure must be in accordance with Hamilton’s Swimming Pool Enclosure By-law No. 03-125 which defines a swimming pool as any privately owned body of water located outdoors, which is used or capable of being used for swimming and which is contained wholly or partly by artificial means (including inflatable sides).

In addition, you must not excavate or build a pool enclosure until you get a building permit, nor put water in the pool until you have the swimming pool enclosure in place and receive final approval from the City.

There are two major changes proposed that replace the existing Pool Enclosure By-law 03-125.

  • A new requirement that the pool is enclosed by a fence that completely encloses the pool area on all sides. Additionally, openings from a wall of a building which functions as part of the fence, such as doors and windows, would not be allowed. Swimming pool fences in existence prior to the day of the passing of the new proposed by-law would not have to comply with these new requirements.
  • A new definition of pool which would include any body of water that is capable, at any point, of holding water in excess of 0.6 metres in depth. The definition would also include a landscape pond with certain exemptions.

Landscaping Options:

Now that you have this newly constructed fence around you pool, you may find landscaping more challenging, but it doesn’t have to be with a carefully thought out design. You can check out several design layouts through the Internet, read some books or even take some courses if you are that motivated. The other option is to hire a professional landscape designer to help you accomplish your poolside landscaping goals around the new fence.

You may have a favorite combination of plant colours that you want to see incorporated into the design surrounding the pool or you may want to incorporate rockery that provides an added dimension in addition to flowers, ground covers and shrubs. Stones are ornamental and a perfect complement for their form, texture and characteristics.

You can also soften the look of the new safety fence by planting trees around the area; however, they should have non-aggressive root systems. If you are considering adding trees to the landscape, some options that work well are narrow varieties of conifer, certain species of flowering trees and the layered look of planting trees with shrubs.

Although this new by-law has made landscaping options more complicated, a reputable company like Evergreen Landscapes can help you make it all come together beautifully. Don’t believe us? Check out our Gallery and let our work speak for itself