Technical Corner

The Shift In Provincial Regulations As They Relate to Recreation is Interesting

April 20, 2023

Recreation is one of the most diverse work environments with the least amount of specific regulatory controls. Recreation really only has two (2) specific regulations – 1. Aquatics – Regulation 565 Public Pools R.R.O. 1990, and, 2. Refrigeration – Operating Engineers Regulation O. Reg. 219/01. Trying to navigate compliance to the ever-increasing regulatory agency guidelines, advisory’s or recommendations that support the more than 100 codes, acts and regulations is difficult and consuming. Each can be considered a potential legal trap that will only be defined by investigators or the courts when an incident occurs.

Bill 213, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020 was introduced in an attempt to reduce Ontario’s regulatory burden – with an objective to reduce “red tape” to improve the provincial economy. It must be assumed that all government regulatory agencies received similar direction in regards to meeting the objective of Bill 213. The ORFA continues to watch these changes and shares that less regulated responsibility does not equate to less compliance requirement for our members.

Consider the proposed change to lowering the minimum age for lifeguards to 15 by the Province Ontario [more]. The proposed lowering of the minimum age for lifeguards is just another indicator that government is applying Bill 213. This proposed change in aquatics follows the recent review by TSSA for registered ice sheet refrigeration plants to move away from requiring certified staff for systems that exceed 200-hp by creating “alternative rules”. These pathways allow plant stakeholders to develop a site-specific risk-based reduction plan for safe operations and management of the plant without meeting the regulation. It is a transfer of risk to the plant owner [more].

Regulation 565 is a good example of an unbalanced regulatory application with the “A” and “B” Class application of the same legislation. Two pools built exactly the same but in two different environments have two different applications of the same laws. “A” class (public) pools need lifeguards and “B” Class (hotel) pools do not. Regulation 219/01 has its own interesting application of required certified staff based on horsepower – not risk to public safety. Same legislation, two different applications.

There is no doubt that having properly trained lifeguards in care and control of a public pool is diligent but only if supported by equally diligent parent(s) or guardians in monitoring their child’s aquatic behaviour and safety. Lifeguards are not babysitters. They should only be pressed into action when a parent or guardian realizes their child is at risk and requires assistance. Why not have one certified lifeguard who is supported by trained pool observers who are merely monitoring the swimmers for behaviour and crisis identification that has the certified lifeguard respond? I realize not easily applied in every aquatic facility – it’s the concept that needs consideration. The changes to Regulation 219/01 and the forthcoming TSSA Registered, Unattended, Ice Surface Plant Advisory to be released on May 1st, 2023, regarding roles and responsibilities associated with ice surface industrial refrigeration plant operations and management will be one of the most significant changes in clarity on regulatory compliance in our industry since originally released.

What will be needed is well-trained supervisory staff who understand the legal landscape and who are not focused on finding the path of least resistance to compliance. As for ORFA, our role in providing direction on industry best practices will become more important to practitioners as they try and navigate how best to operate. Whenever there is no specific regulatory obligation to be met, governing agencies will turn to organizations like ORFA to determine how an operation should be conducting business. These high watermarks of best practices are created by industry leaders and warehoused by the ORFA for others to adopt and apply specific to their operations. Reduction or change of any regulatory obligation means a direct transfer of risk and responsibility to those managing recreation infrastructure. Leaders will try and raise this bar not try and walk under it!

    Comments and/or Questions may be directed to Terry Piche, CRFP, CIT and Director, Training, Research and Development, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association

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