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Working with local authorities to solve issues

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By forging relationships with local authorities, pool and spa professionals can be ready when unexpected regulatory issues arise.

By Markus Brunner

Over the past 20 years, many changes have been put in place with regards to swimming pools and backyard safety. Local authorities have worked to institute changes designed to protect the public; sometimes, they consult with the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC), while other times, they do not.

This lack of communication has lead to some controversial measures being introduced without input from the PHTCC. These changes most immediately impact—pool and hot tub homeowners and pool and spa companies. It is only with co-operation from both sides that these problems can be avoided. This article will focus on an example of this necessary co-operation, between the London, Ont., chapter of the PHTCC and the City of London.

The history: Laying the groundwork

As member of the Southwestern Ontario chapter of the PHTCC, I have been very aware of proposed changes to legislation or bylaws over the past 20 years. As a chapter, our goal has been to ensure the safety and education of the general public through our association’s actions.

I started Forest City Pool & Patio in 1986 as a small company, building pools. I joined the PHTCC (then known as the Canadian Pool and Spa Association [CANSPA]) in 1989, because I was interested in becoming a company backed by a legitimate association. Joining an industry organization gave me the chance to make a difference with my peers, and also offered several education programs, access to speakers well versed in a variety of topics and seminars offered at trade shows.

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Pool and spa professionals can cause real change within their individual jurisdictions just by making their voices heard.

As time went on, I realized another advantage to membership. When various issues with the City of London would arise, an individual from a pool company couldn’t do much about them on his or her own. However, an individual PHTCC local chapter representative, could. Our regular monthly council meetings let everyone know about the issues at hand and gave us the chance to brainstorm suggestions, which we would present back to the city.

Over the years, the chapter has been fortunate enough to develop working relationships with both the City of London and the London and Middlesex Health Unit. The groups have achieved this by forming committees within the chapter to address bylaw changes. The spokespeople within the bylaw committee have been more or less the same for the past 20 years, which has allowed us to create long-term relationships with the different departments within the city and health unit. Given that the chapter works under the banner of the PHTCC, it is recognized as an association, rather than a random grouping of individuals from different companies.

As a group and individually, we would stay in touch with community representatives during the regular course of our duties (e.g. when we were obtaining permits) and keep the lines of communication open. When there was a significant issue to discuss, we would meet formally, typically once every two or three years. Over the years, we’ve worked together to create or reverse bylaws based on these discussion. The city was always interested in working with us; after all, pool and spa professional are the ones who can go out and spread the word about new regulations and ensure they are enforced.

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