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John Bleasby   

From Pilot to Contractor (22): The Pool Fence Permit Saga

Canadian Contractor Project Management

John Bleasby continues the blogs he started last year, when he built a new home for his family near Orillia, Ontario

Contributing Editor John Bleasby is back with his GC hardhat, putting the finishing touches on the exterior features and landscaping of his new house this spring.  Type “Pilot” in our Search Bar to find John’s entertaining posts from last year about the building of his new home north of Orillia, Ont.

 ‘Permit’ Me to Build, Please!

I was headed to the car when my siding installer asked, “Where you off to, boss?”

“I’m heading down to the Township Office to get a pool fence permit.”


“Got your paperwork ready?”

“Think so,” I said, waving my file folder.

“Bet it’ll take three trips, minimum.”

“Nah!” I scoffed. “What could be simpler than this?”

Where I live, you don’t need a permit to build a pool. However you need to maintain certain setbacks from property lines and septic beds. And you must have a Pool Fence Permit and a fence design that meets various bylaw requirements.

So, off I went with my completed application form, site drawing (three copies) and chequebook.

Well, what the Township website didn’t tell me was that I first needed Zoning Approval. That meant explaining my plan to the Township’s Planning Department and filling out a Zoning Application. Oh, and a $75 fee. However, my drawing did not show the exact setbacks from the lot lines.

“But the pool is further from the lot lines than the house itself, which you already approved,” I pointed out. “We can confirm that quickly by looking at the Site Plan on file for the house.”

“We don’t have those,” the Planning Department person replied. “That’s in the Building Department. We’re the Planning Department. You’ll have to come back with the exact measurements.”

No one in the Building Department was available to dig out my Site Plan. So, I went home, scaled off the setbacks from the approved Site Plan, and returned to the Planning Department the next day

I was all set now, right?

Unfortunately not.

“Your area is governed by the Conservation Authority, sir. We can’t issue a fence permit without their approval.”

The Conservation Authority? Sheesh! That could take weeks!

But as I drove home empty handed again I thought: “Wait a sec. Didn’t my original Approved Site Plan for the house already indicate a pool?”

I checked – and sure enough I already had Conservation Authority approval for a pool. I called the helpful folks at the Planning Office and gave them my good news.

“Oh, I’ll have to confirm that and get back to you.”

He called back. I was right.

“Can I come and get my placard for the fence now?”

“Certainly, sir. Give me a call before you come and we’ll have the paperwork all ready for you to sign.”

More paperwork?

Two days later, I returned. I had to sign off on a Bylaw acknowledgement form.

“We’ll have your permit and placard ready tomorrow or the next day, sir.”

“It’s not ready now?”

“No sir. We need your signature on this form before we make up the placard.”

After four trips, I now have my precious placard. I also know every twist and turn between here and the Township Office, and probably the name of each cow and horse in the fields, too. Thankfully, it’s a lovely drive!

(Next: John and his pool builder and landscape contractor lay out the required excavations and retaining walls.)

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1 Comment » for From Pilot to Contractor (22): The Pool Fence Permit Saga
  1. Reem says:

    This post gave me a chuckle, only because I know all too well the permit process is anything but simple. One of my buddies had to get their pool fence permit and had to go 5 or 6 times before he could get his placard due to a series of misunderstandings and misdirections. So your post on the permit process is all too familiar.

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