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New Pool Regulations Affecting Condos
The New Regulations Designed for the Safety of Users May Have a Number of Unintended Consequences for the Condo Industry
By Ernest Nyitrai | Other articles by Ernest Nyitrai
Our condo is a phased 12-story high-rise containing 150 units. We have an indoor pool and a hot tub both open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. We have a full-time superintendent, generally working 8:00 am to 5:00 pm each day and a full-time condominium manager, generally working 8:00am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday.
There is another condo, adjacent to ours, that also has an indoor pool and a hot tub. They also have a full-time superintendent and a full-time condominium manager on site. These 2 condos have a mutual agreement whereby one condo’s superintendent fills in as a relief while the other is away. The working relationship between our 2 condos is very amicable.
The New Pool Regulation
Under the new pool regulations that recently came into effect, condominium corporations containing more than 6 units,must now:
a) Designate a person(s) to oversee the operation of the pool and hot tub;
b) Ensure that the person(s), overseeing the operation of the pool and hot tub, has completed the prescribed training;
c) Maintain appropriate water clarity and PH level and complete regular testing of the pool and hot tub;
d) Keep records of number of bathers using the pool and hot tub, the testing that has been completed, and any emergencies that have occurred;
e) Enforce capacity limits for the pool and hot tub;
f) Provide an emergency telephone near the pool and regularly test this phone;
g) Have written standard procedures in place for things like emergencies at or near the pool; and provide appropriate signage and have onsite safety equipment.
Implication for Condominium Corporations
Although these new regulations are designed for the safety of its users, they may have a number of unintended consequences for the condo industry. Most of these rules can be handled by the condo corporation with minimal disturbance to the residents, but 2 of these rules can have a major effect on your condo corporation’s annual budget as well as your relationship with the residents.
Since our condo has a full-time superintendent on-site, as does our sister condo, both superintendents are the designated “pool operator” and have received the required prescribed training under this regulation. However, since their work schedule is generally from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (excluding after-hour emergencies when they are on call for their building), they are not available to act as the “pool operator” beyond their work schedule unless our condos change their work schedule. Not only would this add to the operating costs of our condos, it might also butt up against certain employment laws.
Regular Water Testing
Since both our operators are properly trained, they can undertake these tests during their work schedule. These tests must be taken manually every 2 hours or, if the Corporation has an automatic chemical controller, then it can be conducted every 4 hours. Our corporation has this controller.
However, if your condo does not have one of these automatic chemical controllers and wants to purchase one, they can cost approximately $10,000. If your corporation has a hot tub, inside pool and an outside pool, this cost could rise to $30,000 since the regulation requires one automatic chemical controller per body of water.
No matter whether you take these readings every 2 or 4 hours, it will dictate the times when your pool can be open.
The regulation also requires that the first test of the day be done 2 hours before opening for use. Where the superintendent begins at 8:00am, the pool could not be opened before 10:00am. If you have a 4-hour reader, the last reading before the superintendent has completed his schedule, would be 4:00pm and the pool and hot tub must be closed at 8:00pm. If you have a 2-hour reader, then you would have to close at 6:00pm.
Whether you use the 2 or 4-hour reader, the times your pool is open could adversely affect the unit owners if they are unable to use the pool during the times it is open. This would particularly affect those residents who work outside the building during these times and who still wish to use the pool when they return from work. This could lead to resistance from those residents who feel they are being denied the use of an amenity that they are paying for with their monthly maintenance fees.
Therefore, if your condo wants to open the pool and hot tub earlier or later, the condo will be compelled to hire additional staff and ensure they are properly trained thus adding further to the expenses of the condo that were not originally foreseen.
Even though regulations of this kind are intended to meet a particular need for one component of the Ontario mosaic, they can lead to unintended consequences for other parts of the Ontario mosaic.