Recreational Water

Public health inspectors inspect recreational water facilities, including public pools, public spas/hot tubs, splash pads, water slide receiving basins and wading pools.

Inspection results of all public pools, hot tubs and splash pads are available online at Check it! We inspect it.

Opening a pool or spa facility 

If you are planning to open or re-open a public pool, public spa/whirlpool, splash/spray pad, wading pool or water slide receiving basin, you are required to notify Public Health by submitting the following form:

Opening Notification Form

Thinking about renting your backyard pool/spa? Using your pool/spa for business/commercial purposes? Please refer to the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Short-Term Residential Swimming Pool Rentals by Private Homeowners guidance. Once your private backyard pool/spa is used beyond private usage, and used for business/public purposes there can be significant liability and regulatory implications. In addition to insurance concerns, public pools/spas must comply with all applicable legislation such as but not limited to public health regulations, local zoning and building code requirements. Please contact your home insurance provider, local municipality and the Region of Waterloo Public Health (519-575-4400) for more information.

Admission standards for public pools 

The Office of the Chief Coroner developed standards for public pools to assist lifeguards and assistant lifeguards in maintaining adequate supervision. These standards require parents or guardians (at least 12 years of age) to assist staff in the supervision of young children.

Children 0-5 years

  • Regardless of swimming ability, children may not be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian who is responsible for their direct supervision
  • Each parent or guardian can only supervise a maximum of two children at a time

Children 6-9 years

  • Non-swimmers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
    • Each parent or guardian can only supervise a maximum of four children at a time
    • If the children are wearing lifejackets, each parent or guardian can supervise a maximum of eight children at a time
  • Children who are swimmers and have passed the facility swim test may be admitted to the swimming pool unaccompanied

Ratios of instructors/lifeguards must follow the Ontario Public Pools Regulation.

Class B pools that do not require a lifeguard still require children under the age of 12 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Guardians for Class B pools should be at least 16 years of age. 

During an inspection 

The inspector will monitor recreational water including public pools, public spas/hot tubs, splash pads, water slide receiving basins, and wading pools.

A public health inspector will check for:

  • Operational and sanitation requirements
  • Safety equipment
  • Lifeguard and supervision requirements
  • Water clarity, quality and testing
  • Record keeping, and
  • Signage

For more information about the regulation, requirements of what public health inspectors look for during an inspection, review the Public Pools Manual for Owners and OperatorsPublic Spas Manual for Owners and Operators, and Recreational Water Reference Document, 2019

A pool, hot tub, water slide receiving basin, wading pool, or splash pad operator will receive a copy of the inspection report once the inspection is complete. The report will indicate corrective action(s) that is required and a date by which the correction is expected.

A re-inspection may be scheduled to verify that corrective actions have been completed.

If a serious problem is identified during an inspection that poses an immediate health risk to the client or the provider, the facility may be ordered to close until corrective action is taken and the health risk has been eliminated.

Additional resources 

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