Up to owners whether to fence pools: Alberton

Referring to the township’s existing swimming pool regulations as “another useless bylaw we have that doesn’t get enforced,” Alberton Coun. Mike Ford argued at its monthly meeting last Wednesday that it would be pointless to enact new legislation to apply specifically to inflatable “ring” pools.
These portable units are becoming increasingly popular across the district.
Alberton’s existing swimming pool bylaw, a vaguely-worded piece of legislation passed 15 years ago, states privately-owned outdoor pools must be surrounded by a fence at least six feet in height.
It doesn’t specify the size or depth of pools that are included.
As reported in last week’s Times, Fort Frances bylaw enforcement officers are cracking down on homeowners in town who do not have adequate fencing around their backyard swimming pools, including the inflatable “ring” pools (or “bladder” pools).
Reeve Mike Hammond had suggested Alberton might follow Fort Frances’ lead on this issue.
But Coun. Ford disagreed, contending that until the township begins to enforce the existing rules, putting new ones in place would be “wasting paper.”
“Those inflatable pools, you can’t police them,” he argued, noting that many homeowners move the inflatable pools every week or two to protect the grass underneath them—never leaving them in one spot long enough to justify building a fence.
“Why put another bylaw in the books that we don’t enforce?” Coun. Ford remarked. “I see it useless to have all these bylaws on file if we don’t do anything about it.”
The issue was added to last Wednesday night’s agenda after staff at Alberton’s municipal office received a number of inquiries from township residents.
Some councillors acknowledged pools without proper fences could pose a safety hazard, but decided against adopting a new bylaw or making amendments to the existing one, instead leaving the issue in the hands of individual property owners.
“The safety is on the onus of the owner,” Coun. Lou Collier said.
Also at last week’s meeting, Alberton council was quick agree to a request from the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association that the township pledge $392 to help fund the hiring of a high-profile lobby group to push the provincial government on issues facing the forestry industry.
“We’re all stakeholders in that outfit,” Reeve Hammond stressed. “They can’t be that stupid to think [the forestry industry] isn’t in dire straits.”
NOMA requested each of its members donate 40 cents per capita to cover the cost.
Alberton clerk Dawn Hayes noted the township already has received enough donations to cover the expense.
As well, roads employee Lorne Caul briefed council on ongoing work being done on a number of gravel roads within Alberton, which includes hauling in new gravel and applying dust suppressant.
Caul also reported that Alberton, like other municipalities in the district, has had problems with beavers building dams in ditches and drains, and that maintenance crews are looking at new ways to destroy the dams.
“They’re rebuilding the dams as fast as we can pull ’em apart,” he noted.
In other news, Alberton council designated $5,000, part of a $50,000 Ontario Fire Services Grant, to help fund joint training exercises that will include all fire departments belonging to the Rainy River District Mutual Aid Association.
And Bob Gadd was honoured as Alberton’s senior of the year.
Council also nominated both Gadd and Irene Hill-Haver, Alberton’s 2004 senior of the year, for provincial senior achievement awards.