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Ultimate Guide: Backyard Pool Regulations Ontario

A simple guide that explains all of the complexities of backyard pool regulations in Ontario in easy-to-understand language

You want to build a backyard pool in your Ontario home. But if you’ve ever made any renovations to your home, you know it’s never quite as simple as you want it to be.

In Ontario, there are several backyard pool regulations you need to be aware of before you start your design and build. And those regulations can be difficult to understand and navigate.

That’s why we have created this simple guide to explain all of the key aspects of backyard pool regulation that you need to know. We have scrolled through the pages of complex paperwork and created this simple summary to help you better understand what you need to do to build a backyard pool that is compliant with Ontario regulations.

Does your municipality have its own backyard pool regulations?

The first thing most of you will have wondered as you start the process of building your dream backyard pool is if there are regulations at all in Ontario, and if so where can you find them.

The answer to the first question is yes; there are regulations you need to follow when building a pool in your home. But what regulations you need to follow can be a bit more complex.

Every city and province in Canada has specific rules and regulations for building a backyard pool. So the location of your home will define which regulations you need to follow.

However, the good news is that most of these backyard pool regulations have a few things in common, specifically guidelines around safety. We will dive into the common pool safety regulations in a minute but first, let’s look at the other aspects of regulations you need to consider within your municipality.

Your local municipality will have defined regulations for the installation of a new backyard swimming pool. These will often relate to where you can put your pool on your property and the type of pool enclosure you need to build. A pool enclosure is anything that will restrict access to the pool area such as a fence, wall, or other structures.

In all of Ontario, a permit is required before installing a pool (or at least one of the size you are probably looking to install).

To obtain this permit you must have a drawing of your property that shows where the pool will be located along with details about its enclosure.

Septic systems (for your water waste), infiltration galleries (to collect groundwater) and easements (the use of land owned by another person or entity) should also be considered when you plan your backyard pool.

The backyard pool regulations for each of these elements often vary slightly from municipality to municipality. We won’t go into detail about each of them here.

However, you can check the below links for your municipality or call your local building department to learn the specific backyard pool regulations that will apply to your property.

In addition to your municipal regulations, some properties in Southwestern Ontario can also fall under the jurisdiction of the Grand River Conservation Authority. You will need to check if your property is one of these as your backyard pool will then require additional permissions.

Get a permit for a backyard pool enclosure

Moving away from municipal regulations, let’s look at some things every person who wants to build a backyard pool in Ontario will need to consider.

Before you start construction of your backyard pool, you need to get a permit for a pool enclosure.

While in most municipalities you do not need a Building Permit to install a swimming pool, you do however need a Building Permit to:

  • construct the pool enclosure (fence)
  • construct a deck in addition to or adjacent to the pool

And as all pools require a pool enclosure, all pools, therefore, have to go through a permit process. Although that process looks a little different from city to city.

For example in Toronto, to get the permit, you must first obtain a Zoning Certificate. This can be done by completing the Zoning Form and emailing it

However, in Hamilton, you can submit an online ePlan application.

Wherever you are in Ontario, your pool enclosure will require a permit, but this isn’t something you have to worry about when you work with Boulder; we take care of the entire permitting process for all our pool clients in all the cities we work in across Ontario.

Do I need to tell my neighbour I'm building a backyard pool?

The answer to this question is short and sweet. No, you don’t need to tell your neighbour that you are building a backyard pool. It is unnecessary as it isn’t part of the Ontario government regulations for backyard pools.

The only exception to this will be if you are fencing your property line to build your pool enclosure. In this case, you need to alert your neighbour of the plans.

However, even if it’s not on the property line, if you like your neighbours it is a nice courtesy to let them know construction will be going on. They can then prepare for any noise and machinery that might start appearing.

Build a fence for your pool area

The Ontario government and the municipal governments are concerned with pool safety. This is why enclosures are mandatory.

An enclosure will reduce the possibility of accidents occurring.

There are backyard pool regulations for enclosures and these can vary from municipality to municipality and even district to district.

These regulations include things such as enclosure heights and change according to the following:

  • property type
  • enclosure location
  • enclosure material

Some general rules to be aware of (although they may vary for your specific property) are that open roof pools should not go more than 2 meters from the deck surface. And although it may seem obvious as electricity and water are not a good mix, the material for your enclosure cannot conduct electricity.

How to drain your backyard pool in Ontario

Backyard swimming pools can contain harmful chemicals. Another key element of backyard pool regulations in Ontario looks at how you drain and dispose of your pool water. This water can pollute surface waters so needs to be removed in a carefully considered manner.

When draining your backyard pool you will want to think about:

  • You must not drain water directly into storm drains or parks.
  • You must dechlorinate pool water before you drain it.
    • To do this you can let your pool water sit for a week or two or use dechlorination tablets.
  • You must test your pool water before you drain it to make sure it follows regulations.
    • Safe discharge levels for chlorine and bromine are 0.1 mg/L or less.
  • Drain the water slowly on your property to lessen the impact that any chemicals may have.
    • If you have a smaller backyard consider draining your pool water over time to reduce puddling
  • If you have a saltwater pool you must dispose of this water by hiring a hauler approved by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Create a backyard pool safety plan

As you are at the beginning of your backyard pool-building journey you will be focusing on the regulations that apply to the preconstruction and construction stages. However, it’s good to also be aware that there are backyard pool regulations for maintaining your enclosures over time and keeping your pool safe.

The Canadian Red Cross recommends that pool owners set their own rules and come up with an action plan for emergencies. It is also recommended that children in the pool have adult supervision all the time.

These considerations will help reduce the risk of drowning and other unlikely events and ensure your pool paradise remains so.

Your Ontario pool contractor

The backyard pool regulations for Onatio can be complex. Even more so when you consider that every municipality and district can have varying regulations. However, the key things to consider are your pool enclosure and drainage.

If you’re looking for a pool contractor that knows the ins and outs of backyard pool regulations across all the municipalities in the Greater Hamilton area, look no further. We have built pools across the province and are familiar with all of the local regulations your property will need to comply with and complete all the necessary permitting and paperwork with your municipality on your behalf.

Boulder Design is Greater Hamilton, Ontario’s leading pool contractor. As a team of pool specialists with over 14 years of experience in pool installation we are proud to offer top-quality, full-service backyard pool installs to the people of Southern Ontario.

Transform your backyard with a thoughtfully designed swimming pool that fits your outdoor space perfectly!

Get a free quote today.

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