There are standards for fence height and structure in Toronto. If you need your fence to be taller for a specific reason, you can apply for a fence exemption.

If you have a swimming pool, you need to have a particular type of fence. Every pool must have a swimming pool enclosure that completely surrounds the area around the pool. There can have no openings, except for a gate.

There are four Municipal Licensing & Standards district offices that can answer questions and/or accept your fence exemption application in person or by mail.  To determine which office serves your area, enter your address here.  Otherwise, contact 311 for assistance.

Swimming Pool Enclosures

Required for all outdoor structures on private property that:

  • Can be used for swimming, wading or bathing
  • Are 60 cm (600 mm) deep or more at any point

The enclosure must restrict access to the structure and can be a fence, wall or other structure.

Apply for a Swimming Pool Enclosure Permit

Minimum Swimming Pool Enclosure Heights

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

Construction Standards

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 (e.g., 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) from the first level of your house.

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
  • Equivalent open fence construction that does not restrict visibility of the pool from any door or window that is located on the access level of the building, and which has a line of sight to the pool.

When You Can Fill Your Pool

  • an officer must conduct an inspection and confirm that your fence is safe before you are able to use your pool
  • if you allow your pool to be used prior to this inspection, you may face a fine

Contact 311 to book an inspection.

Temporary Fence Requirements

  • must consist of steel “T” posts spaced at not more than 1.2 m centres and embedded at least 60 cm into the ground with 38 mm plastic mesh fencing that is at least 1.2 m high.
  • plastic mesh fencing must be securely fastened to the posts at 20 cm centres and horizontally secured at the top and bottom by an eleven-gauge steel lacing cable which is threaded through the mesh and looped and fastened to each post

If authorized to erect a temporary fence, you are required to set up a permanent pool fence when construction of the swimming pool is substantially complete or when directed by an officer, whichever comes first.

If a fence does not meet the City’s fence requirements, the property owner may be issued a Notice of Violation (NOV).

At that point, the owner has the option to apply for a fence exemption.

Apply for a Fence Exemption

Appropriate neighbours will be notified and have the opportunity to attend a hearing when the application is being considered.

If your fence does not qualify for an exemption, you will have to fix it so that it conforms to the City’s requirements.

 

Home fences cannot be made of:

  • barbed or chicken wire
  • sharp material
  • sheet
  • corrugated metal panels

Check for industrial and commercial property requirements.

Fence height depends on a number of factors, such as whether or not it is located on residential or non-residential property. See fence heights.

  • Vertical pickets cannot be:
    • more than 38 mm apart where horizontal rails are spaced less than 1.2 metres apart and
    • not more than 10 cm apart where horizontal rails are spaced at least 1.2 metres apart.
  • Horizontal rails must be:
    • supported on substantial posts
    • no more than 2.4 metres apart and embedded in concrete to a minimum depth of 90 cm below grade

Glass panels must:

  • have an opening of no more than 38 mm between the panel and the post where horizontal elements are spaced less than 1.2 metres apart,
  • not be more than 10 cm apart where horizontal elements are spaced more than 1.2 metres apart.

Horizontal elements must be supported on substantial posts spaced not more than 2.4 metres apart and embedded in concrete to a minimum depth of 90 cm below grade.

Glass panels used in pool fences must be:

  • Safety glass (laminated or tempered) and conform to CAN/CGSB-12.1-M “Tempered or Laminated Safety Glass”
  • Wired glass conforming to CAN/CGSB-12.1-M “Wired Safety Glass.”

The masonry wall must:

  • present a minimum 1.2m non-climbable surface to the exterior of the enclosed area
  • be constructed of a minimum double course brick or single course concrete block with a minimum width of 20 cm,
  • be securely attached to a minimum 1.2-metre deep concrete foundation.

If the wall abuts a building or gate, the opening cannot be more than 38 mm, where there are horizontal elements less than 1.2 metres apart, or which exceeds 10 cm where there are no horizontal elements or where horizontal elements are in excess of 1.2 metres apart.

All components used as a part of a pool fence must conform with Canadian Standards Association S304.1.

Single gates must:

  • Be supported on substantial hinges
  • Be self-closing and equipped with a lockable, self-latching device located on the inside near the top of the gate or on the outside at least at least 1.5 metres above the ground
  • Be kept locked at all times except when the pool area is in use.

Double gates must:

  • Have one gate that is self-closing with a lockable, self-latching device located on the inside near the top of the gate or on the outside at least at least 1.5 metres above the ground
  • Have a second gate with a lockable drop bolt that extends done into the concrete, asphalt or paving stones by a minimum of 25 mm
  • Be kept locked at all times, including keeping the lockable drop bolt in the located position, except with the pool area is in use.

Neighbours may disagree about:

  • the need to build a fence
  • what type of fence to build
  • whether an existing fence needs to be reconstructed
  • maintenance or
  • how costs should be shared.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the City administers an impartial arbitration process authorized by the provincial Line Fences Act to assist, using “fence viewers”, appointed by City Council. There is a fee associated with the use of fence viewers.

Issues with fence location are civil matters, and may require the owner to work with a surveyor and civil court to resolve the issue.

Download Request for Fence-Viewers form.