Pool Policy Clarification
January 26, 2012
Non-Pool Patrons on Deck
We have been asked to identify the regulations that lead to the recent change at the Aquatic Centre where observers are not permitted on the pool deck during swimming lessons when no lifeguard is on duty.
The key regulation can be found in the Pool Regulations (BC Reg 296/1020) and BC Guidelines for Swimming Pool Operations, issued by the Province of BC, Ministry of Health, April 2011. This regulation came into effect in Oct 2010, and public pools were given one year to comply. The guidelines on page 24 mirror Section 17(3) of the Pool Regulations:
"In specified and limited situations, a public pool may also operate without a lifeguard provided that, during that period of time:
- The only persons permitted access to the pool are members, tenants or patrons of an educational, recreational, or business enterprise (e.g. where the pool is booked for a private function), or
The only persons permitted access to the pool are persons receiving aquatic instruction who are closely supervised by an aquatic instructor and an assistant.
- A clearly visible sign is posted at each entrance to the pool stating that no lifeguard is on duty and that children less than seven years of age must be supervised by an adult, and
- The pool is equipped with the lifesaving equipment required for a commercial pool."
If the pool staff are in the pool giving aquatic instruction, then the pool is operating without a lifeguard because these instructors are not guarding the pool deck. Note that we don't get to pick which of the three criteria that must be followed where the pool is not booked for a private function - all three criteria apply.
"Permitted Access" are the words that potentially offer room for interpretation. In the view of the Lifesaving Society, our Fire Department and our Aquatic Staff, a painted line, moveable ropes or other simple temporary barrier would not be sufficient to deny access to the pool from the small deck area that we have.
Potentially a fixed barricade could be installed but unfortunately that would partition up the little room that we do have on the pool deck that would make it impossible to hold regular pool events such as birthday parties that we now offer.
This is a direct quote from the Director of the Lifesaving Society:
"From our safety point of view, you have done the right thing."
There are different, less stringent rules for Commercial Pools, Hot Tubs, Spray Pools and Wading Pools. (Page 23 of the guidelines and Section 18 of the Pool Regulations.)
Other public pools that we have contacted in regards to their policies to comply with the regulations for the most part address it by having other guarded events such as lane swimming occurring simultaneous with lessons. And if a guard is on deck then the pool would be operating with a lifeguard and this regulation would not be applicable.
Observers are welcome to view lessons from the Lobby Area at the Aquatic Centre. We have cleared sight lines and are doing everything we can to make this a viable option. Most parents find this satisfactory and we have received many positive comments on this approach.
There has not been sufficient pool user demand to justify another full time position. We have had a part-time position posted for several months with no recruiting success to date. At this point, even if someone wanted to pay for a guard that would allow for observers on the pool deck, we wouldn't have that option.Go to Top