The Fence Bylaw sets standards for fences in Toronto and includes rules for fence height, material, and structure. These rules vary depending on whether the fence is on residential or non-residential property, where the fence is located on the property and whether the fence encloses a pool.

If you have a swimming pool, you must have a swimming pool enclosure that completely surrounds the area around the pool. There can be no openings, except for a gate. You will need to obtain an approved Zoning Certificate and a Pool Fence Enclosure Permit to install a swimming pool enclosure.

Property owners can request an exemption from their local Community Council if they would like to install a fence that does not comply with bylaw.

To submit a complaint about a fence, call 311 or email 311@toronto.ca. For clarification on fence requirements, contact your local Municipal Licensing and Standards district office.

Property owners are encouraged to consult the Fence Bylaw for specific requirements and to ensure that their fences are fully compliant.

Fence Restrictions

  • Material: fences generally cannot contain barbed wire, chicken wire, or any other barbed or sharp material.
  • Metal: sheet metal and corrugated metal panels are not allowed.
  • Electric fences: most fences cannot be used to conduct electricity, unless the fence is on agricultural land used for raising livestock.
  • Temporary fencing: temporary fences, with the exception of snow fences, are generally not allowed.

Fence Height

There are maximum fence heights depending on where the fence is located on the property, as well as if the fence is on a residential or non-residential property. There are also specific height maximums for hedges, shrubs and other vegetation that acts as a fence. Use Table 1 of the Fence Bylaw to determine the maximum height allowed for specific fences.

Fence height is measured by taking the average grade level, which is measured perpendicular to and one metre away on either side of the fence.

Open-Fence Construction

For safety reasons, all fences within 2.4 metres of a driveway must be of open-fence construction (for example, open mesh chain-link) for at least 2.4 metres from the lot line where the driveway begins. This applies to the fence or hedge, as well as vegetation growing on the fence and any objects placed on the fence. This rule ensures that the view of the boulevard or highway is not obstructed.

Guard Requirements

If a fence is used as a guard, it must comply with the Property Standards Bylaw. If the guard forms part of a swimming pool enclosure, it must also comply with the Fence Bylaw. In circumstances where more than one applies, the more restrictive rule applies.

A swimming pool is defined as anything on private property that can be used for swimming, wading, or bathing and is 60 cm (600 mm) deep or more at any point. To ensure the safety of the public, a pool cannot be constructed and filled with water without a fence installed as specified in the Fence Bylaw.

Owners of outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, whirlpools and other structures that are capable of being used for swimming must apply for a Pool Fence Enclosure Permit to build and maintain fences and gates around these outdoor structures. A Pool Fence Enclosure Permit is not required if the hot tub, whirlpool or spa has a cover permanently attached to it that can be locked to prevent access when it is not in use.

Apply for a Pool Fence Enclosure Permit

Beginning March 31, 2021, the City is changing the Pool Fence Enclosure Permit application process. There are two easy steps to follow prior to constructing an outdoor pool or hot tub:

Step 1: Apply for a Zoning Certificate from Toronto Building. For further information please call Toronto Building Customer Service at 416-397-5330.

Step 2: If your Zoning Certificate is approved, you need to submit the following to apply for a Pool Fence Enclosure Permit:

Download a Frequently Asked Questions document for more information on proper documentation and other requirements for completing the application and to ensure a quick review and approval.

Email the completed application and attachments to MLSPoolPermits@toronto.ca.

If the application submitted is complete, it will take approximately five business days to review; it could take longer if information is missing or additional information is requested.

To follow up on the status of your pool fence enclosure permit, you can email MLSPoolPermits@toronto.ca or call 416-397-4150.

Enclosure Required

Properties with a swimming pool must have a pool enclosure that completely encloses the area around the pool. This is sometimes referred to as a four-sided pool fence. For example, a fence is required between the rear door of a house and the pool so that the home does not open into the pool area.

The pool enclosure cannot have any openings, except for a gate that complies with the Fence Bylaw. The enclosure may be comprised of a fence, wall or other structure as long as there is no access to the pool area through the wall. Some examples of permitted and non-permitted pool enclosures are below.

Photo of a pool enclosure that is not permitted in Toronto. The exterior door of this pool enclosure opens directly onto the pool area.
Example of a non-permitted pool enclosure: the exterior door of this fence opens directly onto the pool area.
Example of a pool enclosure that is permitted in Toronto. There is a four-sided isolation fence between the exterior door and the pool area
Example of a permitted pool enclosure: the pool is enclosed with a four-sided isolation fence between the exterior door and the pool area.

 

Example of a pool enclosure permitted in Toronto. The pool is enclosed by a four-sided fence. In this case, the boundary fence makes up a portion of the four-sided pool enclosure.
Example of a permitted pool enclosure: the pool is enclosed by a four-sided fence. In this case, the boundary fence makes up a portion of the four-sided pool enclosure.
Example of a permitted pool enclosure: The exterior door opens on the side of the house and there is a four-sided fence that completely surrounds the pool area. There is no direct access to the pool area from the exterior door, assuming that there are no windows along the rear wall.
Example of a permitted pool enclosure: the exterior door opens on the side of the house and there is a four-sided fence that completely surrounds the pool area. There is no direct access to the pool area from the house.

Minimum Enclosure Heights

  • Single Residential Property: 1.2 metres
  • Multiple Residential Property: 1.8 metres
  • Non-Residential Property: 1.8 metres

General Rules

A pool fence, including its gate(s), must:

  • completely surround the pool, with no opening except a gate that complies with the Fence Bylaw. If a wall of a building is part of the fence, the wall can’t have any doors or windows opening into the pool area
  • be no closer than 1.2 m to the edge of the pool
  • be no closer than 1 m to any easily climbable object (such as a tree)
  • have nothing climbable between 10 cm and 1.2 m above the ground that may facilitate climbing the outside of the enclosure
  • have a non-climbable material on the outside of the enclosure
  • cannot block the view of the pool (window or doorway) located on the main living area of the building

When a pool fence separates a pool from a residential building on the same property, then the pool enclosure’s fence and gate must be constructed of:

  • open mesh chain-link fence or
  • other open fence construction that does not restrict visibility of the pool from any door or window that is located on the main living area of the building, and which has a line of sight to the pool

When to Fill Your Pool

You can not fill a swimming pool with water or permit water to collect or remain in a swimming pool until the City has conducted an inspection and confirmed completion of a permanent swimming pool enclosure that fully complies with the bylaw. Contact 311 to book an inspection. If you use your pool before this inspection, you may face a fine.

Construction Standards

The Fence Bylaw identifies the types of fences that can be used to enclose a pool and the related construction standards. Permitted fence types are chain-link fencing (small gauge), wood fencing (either vertical or horizontal boards), a metal picket fence, a glass panel fence, and a masonry wall. Property owners should consult the bylaw for specific requirements for their fence type.

Gate Requirements

All swimming pool enclosure gates must meet specific standards outlined in the Fence Bylaw, including being supported on substantial hinges, being self-closing and self-latching, and being kept locked at all time except when the pool area is in use. Double gates must have a lockable drop bolt.

Boundary Fence Disputes

The City does not have a role in resolving disputes about the location or costs of boundary fences between properties.

Neighbours are encouraged to speak to each other about their boundary fences and to resolve any issues that occur. If they feel it is necessary, they may wish may wish to seek their own legal or other professional advice.

Note: The Line Fences Act, except for section 20 (lands formerly used as part of a line of railway) does not apply in Toronto. As a result, the City does not accept applications for line fence viewing.

Using Mediation in Fence Disputes

The City has partnered with St. Stephen’s Community House, an organization that provides free community mediation services to Toronto residents, as an alternative means to resolving a dispute with the help of neutral mediators.

Mediation can help deliver better service, divert some cases from bylaw enforcement, and get to the root cause of long-standing community or neighbour-to-neighbour issues. The process is separate from bylaw enforcement and completely confidential.

Residents may seek resolution to their issue using mediation services directly: St. Stephen’s Community House, Conflict Resolution & Training, 416-925-2103 ext. 1229, crt.intake@sschto.ca.

For clarification on fence requirements, contact your local Municipal Licensing and Standards district office. To determine which office serves your area, look up your address in the Ward Profiles. Otherwise, contact 311 for assistance.

Central District
433 Eastern Avenue, Building B, 1st Floor
Toronto, ON  M4M 1B7
Email: MLSCentral@toronto.ca
Phone: 416-397-4150
Wards: 4 Parkdale-High Park, 9 Davenport, 10 Spadina-Fort York, 11 University-Rosedale, 12 Toronto-St. Paul’s, 13 Toronto Centre, 14 Toronto-Danforth, 19 Beaches-East York

West District
Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall, North Block, 3rd floor
Toronto, ON  M9C 2Y2
Email: MLSWest@toronto.ca
Phone: 416-397-4150
Wards: 1 Etobicoke North, 2 Etobicoke Centre, 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, 5 York South-Weston, 6 York Centre, 7 Humber River-Black Creek, 8 Eglinton-Lawrence

East District
1530 Markham Road, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON  M1B 3G2
Email: MLSEast@toronto.ca
Phone: 416-397-4150
Wards: 15 Don Valley West, 16 Don Valley East, 17 Don Valley North, 18 Willowdale, 20 Scarborough Southwest, 21 Scarborough Centre, 22 Scarborough-Agincourt, 23 Scarborough North, 24 Scarborough-Guildwood, 25 Scarborough-Rouge Park