Quebec postpones rule requiring fencing around all residential swimming pools

The regulation aimed at pools installed before November 2010 was adopted last summer and was supposed to take full effect by July 1, 2023.

Labour shortage, lack of building supplies led to postponement of new rule

Residential pools built before November 2010 will now have until 2025 to have a fence or enclosure installed. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The government of Quebec has postponed a provincewide regulation that would require all residential pools to have a fence to prevent drownings.

The new regulation, adopted last summer, would make pools installed before November 2010 subject to the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Regulation. Owners initially had until July 1, 2023 to install an enclosure in compliance with that rule.

When announcing the decision last May, the ministry said in a statement that the expanded rules were in response to recommendations by several coroners over the years, aimed at reducing child drownings.

However, supply and labour shortages have led the government to postpone the deadline. Owners now have until Sept. 30, 2025.

Laurent Daviault, vice-president of Clôtures Daviault, a Quebec-based fence company, said it would have been impossible to meet the province's original deadline of next year. He said there aren't enough raw materials or workers to meet the demand.

Residential fence projects over $10,000 were rare before the pandemic, but now home projects costing $15,000 to $25,000 are common, he said.

"Prices have really doubled over the past year and a half. And because of the new regulation, the demand has increased," said Daviault. 

Owners of in-ground pools have been hit particularly hard, as the fence required to secure it is much larger than what is required for an above-ground pool. 

In-ground pools must be completely encircled by the fence, while above-ground pools only need a barrier on a deck preventing access. A safety door or ladder is also acceptable, depending on the pool.

Some are critical of the government's decision to postpone. Raynald Hawkins, general manager of the Lifesaving Society's Quebec branch, has been calling for stricter home pool regulations for years.

"We are pushing back another deadline," he said. "Coroners tell us: almost nine times out of 10, drownings have taken place in residential swimming pools."