Owners and operators are important partners in ensuring public health and safety at public swimming pools and spas (hot tubs).

Regulation 565, Public Pools under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act regulates recreational water facilities and sets out the minimum health and safety standards. Toronto Public Health inspects all public recreational water facilities including swimming pools and hot tubs. The Recreational Water Protocol 2019 sets out the inspection frequencies as once every 90 days while open.

To assist owners and operators in meeting health and safety standards, Toronto Public Health has developed the Public Pool, Public Spa and Class C Facilities Operator’s Manual 2019 (also available in French).

Recreational water facility owners and operators are required to provide inspection results to the public. To do this, Toronto Public Health created the SwimSafe disclosure program, which requires owners and operators of recreational water facilities to post colour coded Pass, Conditional Pass and Closed inspection notices at the entrances to the facility. Toronto Public Health also posts inspection results on its Recreational Water Facility Inspections web page.

Designers, builders and owners of public swimming pools and hot tubs have a responsibility to build facilities that meet health and safety standards to protect against injuries and the spread of disease.

Provincial legislation and local by-laws require that all health and safety considerations are addressed before facilities are opened for use.

You can avoid costly changes by integrating these health and safety requirements into building plans before construction begins.

Submitting Plans

All public swimming pools and hot tubs must comply with the requirements of the Ontario Building Code, the City of Toronto Municipal Code, and the Ontario Public Pools/Ontario Public Spas Regulations.

Prior to construction or renovation, a building permit must be obtained from the City of Toronto Building Division. A Building Division official will review the plan for compliance with the Ontario Building Code and other related regulations.

In addition, Toronto Public Health requires that plans be submitted for review and approval by a Public Health Inspector.

Safety Features

The safety features required by Municipal Code and Ontario Public Pools/Ontario Public Spas Regulations include, but are not limited to:

Fencing and enclosures

  • All public swimming pools and hot tubs must be enclosed by a fence equipped with a self-closing door or gate to prevent unsupervised access by small children.
  • Fence height must meet municipal code requirements.
  • Doors and gates must be lockable to prevent accidents during the time the facility is not open for use.
  • Drain covers and equalizer fittings must be installed to prevent entrapment below the water and other possible serious injuries.

Visibility measures

  • The colour of the pool basin must be light or white to ensure visibility and aid in a safety rescue situation.
  • A black disc affixed to the deepest point of the pool is required to gauge water clarity. This disc should be clearly visible from anywhere on the pool deck.

Signage and depth markings

  • Depth markings are required for ramps and diving boards.
  • Signage indicating deep/shallow area must meet safety requirements to prevent critical injuries and accidents.

Other safety requirements

  • A landline emergency phone in close proximity.
  • Easily accessible lifesaving equipment.

Equipment and storage

  • Storage room(s) for chemicals and equipment should be kept cool, dry and well ventilated, and capable of being locked.
  • The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act  requires that storage rooms are designed according to confined space guidelines, in order to best protect the safety of workers.

Spas (Hot Tubs)

Hot tubs can pose unique health and safety hazards because of higher water temperatures and suction created at the drain by the recirculation pumps.

  • To prevent heat-related injuries, every hot tub must be equipped with a tamper-proof upper limit cut off switch (separate from the thermostat) set to a maximum temperature of 40°C (104°F) and a timing device.
  • All hot tubs must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices and an emergency stop button linked to an audio-visual alarm.

At least 14 days before opening or reopening a recreational water facility, owners and operators are required to notify Toronto Public Health in writing of their intention to open:

  • a newly constructed facility
  • a renovated and/or altered facility
  • any facility closed for more than four weeks

Permission in writing from the Medical Officer of Health or a Public Health Inspector is required before opening or re-opening a recreational water facility.

Report a Recreational Water Facility Opening/Re-Opening

Learn more about operating exempt spas in a safe manner by reviewing the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Guidance for Exempt Public Spas.