When a local caretaker saw a child fall through a skimmer cover and hurt herself over the long weekend, he decided it was time to take action.
Pool water circulates through skimmers, or overflow gutters, which are located near the pool's edge. At a pool used by a few stratas in Burnaby, including the one where Michaud Smith works and lives, the skimmer cover was not screwed down.
Smith was enjoying a sunny day by the pool when his friend's daughter suddenly found herself knee deep in a pool gutter while playing beside it.
"When I saw it, it freaked me out," he said, noting the girl's knee was luckily only slightly bruised and cut. "I don't want that happening again."
After investigating what the young girl fell through, Smith found holes in the skimmer's lid where screws should have been to secure it from being opened easily.
"I can't imagine the liability it could have on the strata I work for," Smith said, who works for Sandlewood in North Burnaby. "If the parents decided to go through legalities, the money would come out of our contingency fund."
When Smith contacted the pool company, he was told it was common practice to not screw shut the lid all the time so maintenance workers can easily clean and access the skimmer - and incidents of people falling through the lid are not common.
"I've seen (kids go through) it before," he added. "Another girl had hurt herself. If the lid isn't on properly, it gives like a plate on a rod and it will flip."
The gutters are often cleaned for debris, but Smith said he was concerned when he heard it was common practice that the skimmer covers go without screws. "I don't see why they can't just add screws," he said. "I can't see how making a change wouldn't be for the better."
The other issue, Smith said, is the skimmer at the pool his strata uses has a chlorine bar in the shape of a puck inside it, which is dangerous to touch.
"If people can tamper with skimmer covers and put their hand in there, their hand will get hurt," he noted.
In an effort to make things safer, Smith said he wants to make it mandatory for commercial pool skimmer covers be screwed down at all times.
"This is to protect kids from falling in, or to prevent people from putting their hands in (the skimmers)," he said, adding that there are often no lifeguards at these pools.
The changes Smith wants to make have to start at the provincial level because it affects pool regulations.
He said he hopes to collect 400 signatures to send to Burnaby- Lougheed MLA Jane Shin at the strata's next annual general meeting.
Sandlewood and Terramore townhomes, both of which use the adjacent pool run by Bayside Properties, are having annual general meetings next March, which is where Smith will be collecting the signatures.
In the meantime, Smith said he's also collecting accident reports from other stratas related to this issue.
To contact Smith about the petition, call 604-727-3298 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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