Town backs off changing swimming pool bylaws

Staff ~ The Amherst News webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on January 20, 2010

AMHERST - Amherst is not moving forward with changes to its land-use bylaws that would have removed the requirement for fences around above ground swimming pools.

Upon receiving legal advice from town solicitor Doug Shatford saying council faces little chance of liability if it maintains the status quo, council agreed it would stop the process at Monday's regular council session.
Council gave first reading to the proposed bylaw in the fall because its solicitor said the town could be liable if its doesn't enforce the existing legislation requiring fences around all swimming pools, whether in-ground or above ground.
"If you proceed with a public hearing and second reading you have really given notice that you intend to pass that amendment. It would be sort of contradictory to proceed that way when you intend to vote against it," town CAO Greg Herrett said during council's January committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday.
Speaking to council, planning and engineering services director Jason MacDonald said the town has to proceed with a planned public hearing and second reading or bring forward a motion that it not proceed.
When the amendment was brought before council several months ago, several councillors expressed concern with removing the requirement for fencing around the pools.
At the same time, staff expressed concern with trying to enforce the need for a development permit when it came to the numerous inflatable pools that pop up during the summer.
When council last discussed the issue in November, MacDonald said part of the problem would be trying to tell people they have to build a fence around an inflatable pool or remove the pool, only to have the pool re-inflated soon after the bylaw enforcement officer left the property.