October 27, 2021 - Blog Post

Water Safety and Your Condo

Residing in a condominium that is situated on a lake or has a hot tub, pool and/or pond is a huge perk in the summer months.  However, this perk comes with a significant amount of risk and exposure to potential liability.

Under Sections 26 and 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 19 (the Act), a condominium corporation has a duty to ensure that no condition exists or activity is conducted on its common elements that is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual, and should an accident occur on a condominium corporations common elements the condominium corporation would be deemed to be the occupierfor liability purposes. Accordingly, a condominium corporation that has a body of water on its common elements has an obligation to ensure that the presence of the body of water and use of same does not result in an increased risk of personal injury or property damage since the condominium corporation could be held liable for any damages and/or injuries sustained as a result of same.

A condominium corporations duty as the occupier of its common elements is set out in Section 3 of the Occupiers Liability Act, 1990, R.S.O. 1990, c. O-2 (the OLA), which provides, as follows:

1.2.3.   An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.

The duty of care provided for in subsection (1) applies whether the danger is caused by the condition of the premises or by an activity carried on the premises.

The duty of care provided for in subsection (1) applies except in so far as the occupier of premises is free to and does restrict, modify or exclude the occupiers duty.

Section 3 of the OLA imposes an affirmative duty on a condominium corporation to ensure that its common elements are reasonably safe by taking reasonable care to protect persons while on the common elements from foreseeable harm. The standard of care expected of a condominium corporation as the occupier of the common elements is one of reasonableness, not perfection. Thus, a condominium corporation does not owe a duty to provide safety in all circumstances, but rather a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injury and damage from danger, which is known or ought to be known.

The obvious foreseeable injury associated with any body of water is drowning.  However, it is also foreseeable that a body of water and/or the area surrounding it could cause other water-related injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, concussions, traumatic brain injuries and fractures. For example, diving in shallow water could cause a person to hit their head on the bottom of the body of water, which could result in spinal injury. At the same time, running and slipping on a pool deck could result in drowning as well as a concussion. Accordingly, in order to comply with the Act and the OLA, a condominium corporation that has a body of water on its common elements should take reasonable steps to protect individuals from the foreseeable risks associated with the body of water and surrounding area by, at a minimum:

In addition to the obligations set out under the Act and the OLA, most municipalities have by-laws that specify safety features that must be implemented by property owners around any bodies of water on their property, such as a fence of a certain height with a specific gate closure. Furthermore, Ontario Reg. 565: Public Pools made under the Health Protected and Promtion Act, 1990, R.S.O. 1990, C. H.7 also stipulates safety, supervision, notice and occupancy requirements for public pools, which include pools at condominiums that have six or more dwelling units.
Accordingly, before the temperatures rise and residents flock to a condominium corporations pool or lake to cool down, it is imperative that the condominium corporation ensure that its operation, maintenance and use of the body of water complies any applicable municipal and/or provincial requirements, and that it takes preventative steps to protect all persons on the premises from the foreseeable risks associated with the body of water and the surrounding area.

Ashley Winberg
Elia Associates - Condominium Lawyer


Tag(s): accident || be prepared || common elements || condominium communities || duties of condominium corporations || duty of care || hot tub || injuries || Occupier’s Liability Act || swimming pool || water safety