Inflatable pools require fences

Everybody loves a means to cool off in the summer, and inflatable “ring” pools (or “bladder” pools) literally have been popping up in local backyards of late.
But before you go out and buy one, be warned that you might run into an unexpected expense since a town bylaw says you’ll need to put a fence around that pool.
“In the last week, I’ve had to get three people to empty their pools,” Chief Building Official Rick Hallam reported Monday.
“Everybody I’ve dealt with has been co-operative,” he noted. “But I do want the public to know that anybody who has one of those pools needs a fence around it.”
According to the bylaw, any Fort Frances resident owning a pool with a depth of 24 or more inches—in-ground or above ground—must have a fence around it.
On average, these inflatable ring pools are between 26 to 40 inches high, and nine-15 feet in diameter, although there are even larger models available.
The only exception to the bylaw is above-ground, hard-sided pools which are 48 inches or taller, have no horizontal surfaces that can be used as footholds, and can only be accessed by a ladder.
And the ladder must be put away when no adult is around to supervise children using the pool.
Hallam noted anyone who wants to put up a fence must first contact him, or bylaw enforcement officers Arlene Byrnes and Dave Egan, and get a fencing permit.
Hallam also must inspect the fence once it’s built.
The fence must be at least four feet high, be at least four feet from the edge of the pool on all sides, have no horizontal openings/surfaces on it that could be used as footholds, and have a lock on it (to control access to the pool when no adults are around).
Fences can be made of wood or chain-link (but not barbed wire or razor wire, as some people have asked Hallam).
Hallam noted the bylaw stems from the Municipal Act, and is meant to protect children from possible harm.
He added Fort Frances is far from the only municipality with such a bylaw, estimating about 90 percent of communities in Canada have similar ones in place.
Hallam noted even the packaging for these inflatable pools has warnings on it stating that, depending on where the pool owner lives, they may be required to have a fence around that pool.  The problem is that a lot of customers don’t read the warning.
“I support the stores’ right to sell them, and I support the public’s right to purchase them,” said Hallam. “But my job is to see the Municipal Act enforced.”
Angus McBride, owner of Canadian Tire here, said the “bladder pools,” as he calls them, are quite popular, estimating there may be more than 100 in local yards.
His store sold more than 15 in the past week or so.
These range in price from $99 for the smallest up to a $600 model, which is 48 inches high and 18 feet in diameter.
But McBride noted he did not know of the municipal bylaw here, noting that in Winnipeg, the pool depth was 36 inches or more, not 24 inches. He also felt the customers who have bought the pools probably didn’t know of the bylaw, either.
But McBride did check the packaging for the pools sold at Canadian Tire and confirmed what Hallam said—there is a warning, in bold print, telling consumers to check with their local bylaws before setting up the pools.
“I think what we’re going to do is reinforce [the regulations outlined in the bylaw] with some small signage,” he remarked.
While McBride conceded bringing the municipal bylaw to the attention of the public likely will hurt pools sales at Canadian Tire, he understood the reasoning behind the bylaw.
“I would rather sell no pools than see someone lose their life,” he stressed.