More Ontario homeowners are taking the plunge and installing swimming pools.
According to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which tracks property data across the province, nearly 6,800 swimming pool permits were issued in 2020, an increase of 53.2% over the previous year.
The heightened demand for swimming pools, as revealed in an analysis of Ontario building permits, comes amid a surge of pandemic-inspired renovations.
“Swimming pools are obviously a significant investment, and many property owners evidently decided to take the plunge during the pandemic,” says Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “This is another indication that people were very focused on their homes in 2020 – perhaps because public health restrictions necessitated spending more time at home.”
Backyard with pool after a afternoon downpour.
The spike in swimming pool permits in 2020 was in stark contrast to the previous two years, which saw sinking numbers: decreases of 14% in 2018 (4,584 permits) and 3.2% in 2019 (4,437 permits).
Ottawa saw the largest number of pool permits in 2020, with the city issuing 936 permits -- an increase of 57% from the previous year and more than double any other municipality. Hamilton was next with 428 permits, followed by London (266) and Burlington (202).
Milton saw the largest increase in pool permits, with a 1550% increase (165 permits, compared to just 10 in 2019).
“Time will tell if this was a one-time blip, or swimming pools will continue to be a popular upgrade to residential properties” Lipsi say. “These trends tell us about property owners’ priorities and how the marketplace is evolving.”
And, not that anyone needs the reminder, but the heat waves aren't going anywhere in the near future .
That said, with this many new swimming pools coming to the province, safety should be a high priority for any new owner. Eric Shendelman, owner of Shendy's Swim School and CPR training centre for the past 30 years, stresses that a 30-40 minute class on pool safety should be conducted once installation of a new pool is complete.
Shendelman, also a past president of the Ontario Camps Association and a member of the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition, recommends that everyone who has a backyard pool also learns CPR. As well, having an understanding of who is responsible for what while enjoying the pool is also important.
"The first safety tip is to designate someone as the 'water watcher'. That's someone who's always watching, without distractions, what's happening in the water."
The pioneer of the "No Push Movement", Shendelman also says "it wouldn't be unusual to have a sign made for your own pool." And while some homeowners may find this suggestion a touch too rigid or community like, it's never a bad idea to have rules in place when it comes to water safety -- especially given the number of guests pool owners will (hopefully) have over to join in the fun.