Home > Accidents > Stay Safe Around Pools: Understanding the Risks and Responsibilities of Pool Ownership and Usage

Stay Safe Around Pools: Understanding the Risks and Responsibilities of Pool Ownership and Usage

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was record demand for pool builds across Canada.  38,000 pool permits were issued in 2020 and 2021.[1]  For three straight years, Ottawa was the pool capital of Ontario, with 780 permits issued in 2022.[2]


Pools are a great source of entertainment and joy during the hot summer months.  They can also be a source of injury.  It’s not only the pool itself that can be dangerous. The wet patio stones that often surround a well-used pool are a hazard to those on deck.


Whether public, or in someone’s backyard, pools typically have rules to prevent injury.

pool with sign that reads 'do not swim'.

I can still hear my parents shouting some of these rules at my childhood self:

“No diving in the shallow end!”

“No running on the deck!”

“Feet first down the slide!”

“Don’t go in the pool alone!”

“Let go of your brother!”


The rules are for good reason – to protect yourself and others.  People can get hurt when someone doesn’t follow the rules.


If you or a family member have been injured in a swimming pool accident, you may have a claim against one of the other pool users, the pool owner, the pool manufacturer, or even the pool store.


In the case of Walford v Jacuzzi Canada Ltd a teenage plaintiff was severely injured when she went down a slide headfirst into a 4-foot aboveground pool.  The plaintiff sued a number of defendants, including the slide manufacturer and two pool stores.


The plaintiff’s mother saw an ad in the Hamilton Spectator offering a 10-foot-pool slide manufactured by Jacuzzi.  She called two pool stores and asked if she could install a 10-foot slide for use in a 4-foot pool.  The pool stores told her it wasn’t a problem.  One of the pool stores even sold her parts to assist with the install.  Relying on the pool stores’ guidance, the mother went forward, buying and installing the used pool slide.


Despite the plaintiff’s mother’s direction to use the slide feet first, the plaintiff went down the slide on her knees.


Ontario’s Court of Appeal held that a duty of care arose when the defendant pool store told the plaintiff’s mother that the slide would be OK for a 4-foot pool, “in the course of selling her parts that would enable such use”.  The Court of Appeal also held that the pool store was negligent in failing to warn her about the danger of erecting the slide on a shallow pool when she specifically sought their advice.


The Court held that Pioneer pools was 80% at fault and the plaintiff was 20% at fault for the accident.


This pool store case is a bit anomalous.  More commonly, actions would be brought against pool owners.


What is required of a reasonable swimming pool owner depends on the circumstances.  Most municipalities require that pools are fenced in, and that the gate to the pool is locked.  We can look to these municipal by-laws for guidance, but a by-law breach does not necessarily mean that a swimming pool owner is negligent.


If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident, let us take a closer look at your case.  We represent clients across Eastern Ontario, with offices in Kingston, Ottawa, Carleton Place, Perth, and Pembroke.  Contact Bergeron | Clifford today.


[1] Backyard pool building surges as Canadians opt for at-home oasis to escape COVID-19, heat and boredom:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pools-demand-for-backyard-escape-oasis-hiked-by-covid-climate-change-1.6230599

[2] Ottawa remains the pool capital of Ontario for another year:  https://www.mpac.ca/en/News/OurStories/OttawaremainspoolcapitalOntarioanotheryear






Rob attended law school at Queen’s University and graduated with his Juris Doctor in 2020.  He summered at and completed his articles with Weaver, Simmons LLP, a full-service firm in Northern Ontario.  During his articles Rob had the opportunity to see personal injury files from both the plaintiff side and the defence side.  After articles, Rob practiced injury law and general litigation with Kelly + Kelly Lawyers in Pembroke, until Kelly + Kelly’s civil litigation practice joined Bergeron Clifford in 2023.

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