Now that the Quebec government has permitted public pools to reopen, it is important to note that a great many safety standards must be met.
Our Mayor has already announced that Parkhaven Pool will reopen with many new rules. As for those pools in condos and apartment buildings, it is by no means a slam dunk. Many have already indicated to me they do not wish to take the risk of a COVID-19 spread. Others simply do not feel they can properly comply with the measures necessary.
I have personally gone on record that pools should not reopen this summer. It is not the water I am concerned about; rather the ability for people (especially kids) to social distance in the water; common touching of railings and chairs; the use of bathrooms; and more.
As for pools in condos and apartments, I am still seeking clarification as to whether they are included in Premier Legault's reference to "privately owned pools" in this article.
The Institut National de la Santé Publique du Québec (“INSPQ”) has published a document for condominium associations and apartment building owners to prepare for the eventual reopening of their swimming pools. These preventive measures must be implemented before owners and tenants can use the pools in order to respect the government measures on physical distancing and hand hygiene. The preventive measures notably include:
- Measures should be put in place in order to respect physical distancing of at least two (2) meters at all times, inside or outside the pools, such as:
- Limiting the number of pool users at one time;
- Distributing tickets to users for a specific period of time to use the pool;
- Have a guard at the entrance of the pool at all times during opening hours to control the number of users who enter;
- Ensure that all chairs are placed at a minimal distance of two (2) meters;
- Installation of marks of the ground in strategic areas to enforce physical distancing measures;
- Promote hand washing inside the facility, such as installing hand sanitizer dispensers or hand washing stations inside and outside the entrance of the pools;
- Ensure users shower with soap for at least one minute before entering the pool;
- Prevent access for users who have contracted the COVID-19 virus or show symptoms of the virus;
- Ensure proper ventilation for indoor pools in order to control the concentration of contaminants in the air and therefore, update ventilation systems as per industry standards, if necessary;
- Close all areas where physical distancing of two (2) meters is not possible or where there is poor ventilation by establishing physical barriers such barricades or tape;
- Locker rooms should only be used to go to the toilet and allow for only a limited number of people to use the locker rooms at the same time;
- Distribute a triage questionnaire to all pool users to detect COVID-19 related symptoms and explain to users the risks of using the pool;
- Have a guard at the entrance of the pool at all times during opening hours to remind users of these measures;
- Installation of signage indicating these measures;
- The usual measures to ensure the quality of the water must be rigorously applied as per the Regulation respecting water quality in swimming pools and other artificial pools; and
- The usual measures for cleaning and disinfecting must be rigorously applied for all surfaces including but not limited to locker rooms, showers, washrooms, water fountains, doorknobs, pool ladders, diving boards, etc. The hiring of additional staff/personnel may be required to ensure proper cleaning.
In order to respect the abovementioned measures, condominium associations and owners of apartment buildings may have to purchase the necessary equipment or incur certain expenses, such as but not limited to:
- Hand sanitizer dispenser or hand washing stations;
- Pictograms to be placed on the ground such as arrows and lines;
- Printing of signage indicating the abovementioned measures;
- Printing of triage questionnaires and information flyers;
- Upgrade in ventilation systems; and
- Hiring of additional staff/personnel to survey and ensure the abovementioned measures are respected;
The City urges condominium associations and owners of apartment buildings to follow these guidelines and asks that serious and responsible personnel be appointed to implement these procedures. If these procedures can’t be realistically met, the shared swimming pools should remain closed.
Furthermore, please note that a pool operation permit is still required and the present letter will be included in any permit that is issued by the Urban Development department. The following clause will also be added to any permit that is issued:
“The condominium association or owner of the apartment building confirms that he has read the attached letter and will abide by the terms and conditions provided therein.”
Finally, the City will be actively encouraging the DSP to enforce the abovementioned measures through the guide of their top senior bureaucrats.
Should condo and apartment buildings managers have any questions, we ask that they contact the DSP by email email@example.com or by phone at 514-842-7226. If you do not receive an answer within a reasonable delay you may contact your city councillor.
A huge thanks to Assistant City Clerk Jason Prevost for all of his work on this file!