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Dec. 15, 2019 | Sunday
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Town won’t hire staff to enforce new pool bylaw
A new bylaw dealing with swimming pools and hot tubs came into effect in NOTL in May. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

NOTL’s new swimming pool and hot tub bylaw divided town councillors on Monday night as they rejected a plan to hire three contract staff to enforce the statute.

The updated nine-page bylaw, which was passed at the council meeting in May, includes several new and more detailed regulations and safety measures for enclosures.

Pools should now be enclosed with a fence not less than 1.52 metres (5 feet) and no more than 2 metres (6 feet) high. The wall of a building can be considered part of the swimming pool if it’s at least 1.52 metres (5 feet) in height and provided that the windows are locked.

If there are doors providing direct access to a swimming pool, from a garage or a house, they have to be equipped with a self-latching device no less than 1.52 metres from the ground and have to be locked when not in use. Every gate and entrance has to be to be kept closed and locked at all times when the pool isn’t supervised.

The new bylaw also requires a permit for hot tubs, which have to be locked when not used and have a secured cover. Hot tubs that don’t have a locking cover will need to comply with the swimming pool enclosure regulations.

The previous bylaw, from 1977, was just three pages and had the same minimum height requirement of five feet. Gates had to be same height as the fence and had to be locked when not in use.

The new bylaw requires swimming pool and hot tubs owners to fully comply within six months.

There are about 900 to 1,000 swimming pools in NOTL, according to a town staff report. Although the exact number of hot tubs in town is not known, staff reported there could be as many hot tubs as there are pools.

At the council meeting on Monday, Coun. Allan Bisback made a motion to hire three contract officers to make sure residents comply with the bylaw.

Councillors were split on the issue, with Clare Cameron noting the regulations do not cover other bodies of water, like ponds.

“Because (this bylaw) doesn’t cover other bodies of water, it’s not going to be a guarantee,” said Cameron. “We can’t legislate the 100 per cent of safety. We can only do our best.”

But Coun. Erwin Wiens. said the town’s bylaw officers are already overburdened. “We have to get the tools to our staff to enforce (the bylaw) but we don’t have the tools,” he said.

Rather than hiring more enforcement officers, Coun. Wendy Cheropita said the town should trust that residents will comply with the new regulations. Adding three more staff felt like a “major reaction,” she said.

Bisback’s motion for additional staffing and resources was defeated in a 5-4 vote.

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