South Glengarry pool law passes despite objections

South Glengarry Property Standards Manager Gary Poupart explains a swimming pool bylaw to council on Monday, March 5, 2018. The bylaw passed despite objections from Coun. Lyle Warden that council did not have enough information to make an informed decision. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – A updated law to regulate South Glengarry pool enclosures, including inflatables and hot tubs, has passed despite a strong objection from one councillor saying the elected body didn’t have enough information.

Property Standards and Bylaw Enforcement Manager Gary Poupart sold the “minor changes” to the previous 2010 bylaw to council Monday night to “make that backyard swimming pool safe,” even though the 10-page law has been completely rewritten.

Poupart also noted the previous law came into effect after a child died in a backyard swimming pool in Williamstown.

The bylaw manager admitted the inflatable pools section “been a bit of a sore problem with a lot of people. A pool’s a pool. A body of water is a body of water.” He later clarified that the inflatables have to be at least 60 centimeters (24 inches deep) before the bylaw comes into play.

Councillor Lyle Warden objected to Poupart’s report, calling it incomplete because the previous bylaw being repealed wasn’t included in the agenda package so elected officials could review and compare the old and new law.

Warden strongly objected to his treatment by Poupart. The staff member told him in an email to go find the old bylaw himself. “Council has to make a decision with the information presented. I expect the information to make a policy position to be in it (the agenda).”

Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost agreed that the old bylaw should have been included. “It should be in the staff report. I don’t have time to start digging up old bylaws and stuff. I have enough busy days with real estate and complaints I get as it is.” Prevost later supported the new law as it was presented.

Poupart said he didn’t include the old bylaw because the new one was “a completely new bylaw,” making a side-by-side comparison difficult. The old bylaw was referenced by number in the report.

Councillor Warden also found the reference to inflatable pools vague.

“I think it’s crazy that a 24 inch pool that you can get for $19 at Walmart requires a $100 permit. It’s stupid. I understand it may be under the Ontario code but there needs to be a scale for the permit fee. You can’t charge somebody five times as much as the pool to get a permit.”

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch following the meeting, Warden said he believed the bylaw “has the potential to be” used by township staff to aggressively go after pool owners.

“Some of my frustrations this evening is the fact that we’re not given enough time. I still think it should have been a first and second reading and then come back (to another meeting). Council has voted. This bylaw is now a law in our municipality and I don’t think there was enough information to make a proper decision,” he told CNW.

“I found that (old) bylaw in like 10 seconds,” Coun. Trevor Bougie laughed. “All you do is search it (on the website) and it’s there.”

“It shouldn’t be up to us and figure out what the changes were,” Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost retorted.

At one point, the discussion eroded into councillors and the deputy mayor snapping at each other over their material reviewing habits, how much material they receive and what should be included by staff.

As for hot tubs, Poupart said the provisions for a rigid cover that could support 90 kilograms (200 pounds) has “always been included” in the law.