Constructing and Renovating Public Swimming Pools and Spas


Designers, builders and owners of public pools and spas have a responsibility to build safe facilities that meet health and safety standards in order to safeguard against injuries and the spread of disease.

Provincial legislation and local by-laws require that all health and safety considerations are addressed before public pools and spas 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 pools and spas must comply with the requirements of the Ontario Building code, the City of Toronto Municipal Code and the Ontario Public Pools Regulations.

Prior to constructing or renovating a public pool or spa, 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. For more information contact the Toronto Building Division.

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

Before opening/reopening a pool or spa for use, the owner or the owner’s agent shall notify, in writing the local health department/unit where the pool or spa is situated in writing at least 14 days before the opening date. Permission in writing from the medical officer of health or public health inspector is required before opening or re-opening a pool or spa.

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 pools and spas 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)

Spas (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 spa 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 spas must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices and an emergency stop button linked to an audio-visual alarm.

Useful Links

Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada

Toronto Water

Toronto Building

Toronto Public Health

Technical Standards and Safety Authority: TSSA

Electrical Safety Authority: ESA

Lifesaving Society

Ontario Ministry of Labour