Purchasing/Living in a Condominium
August, 2 2022 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By Brian Townsend
The Future of Condo Pools and Spas
From the Summer 2022 issue of CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine, Volume 26, Issue Number 4
Tenants and Owners Now Have Greater Appreciation for the Pool, Spa, and Fitness Amenities Located in Their Buildings.
Like everything else, the last two years have forced property managers, condo boards and administrators to take stock of their amenities and put together a plan of action that will satisfy the changing needs of unit owners and renters. More people living in condominiums are spending a higher percentage of time in their residences due to work-from-home or hybrid-work scenarios (or may have even retired); and along the way have given up their outside club memberships. The net result is that your tenants and owners are now going to have greater appreciation for the pool, spa, and fitness amenities located in your building.
Out of all the amenities found in multi-unit high rise buildings, the aquatic facility areas have come out a winner due to all the information describing pools as relatively safe because they have a lesser chance of spreading COVID-19 through water (provided it is properly maintained and disinfected with either chlorine or bromine). Many condo owners are probably wondering why they were not better utilizing the aquatic amenities prior to the pandemic!
The fact is that people now have a higher sense of awareness regarding viral transmission and are conscientious about having well-maintained, disinfected amenities that limit as many touch points as possible. With this in mind, let's review what can be done to enhance your pool amenity and what new technology exists to increase the safety and overall satisfaction of the people enjoying these areas in your buildings.
Proper Maintenance and Cleaning
As COVID-19 becomes endemic and people learn to live with the variants of this virus; hygiene, sanitation and germ awareness has increased for anyone using a shared facility of any type. Water chemistry is an ongoing priority due to other dangerous RWIs when a swimming pool is improperly treated, such as Legionnaires' Disease, Cryptosporidium, E. Coli, Norovirus, Giardia, Shigella. Despite increasing inflationary costs, it is important for condo administrators to budget for additional cleaning expenses so these amenities can remain well above standard.
When looking at your pool and spa maintenance, ensure the company you are contracted with employs experienced staff who are CPO trained technicians so they can properly assess and react to any waterborne situations that arise. It is not in the best interest of your owners to take the cheapest price on maintenance, as cutting corners is no longer an acceptable option on sanitizing your pool or spa.
Staff Training Pool maintenance records need to be accessible and properly maintained to ensure building inspectors and owners can see what services have been conducted on the pool system. The Ontario Health Act mandates all class B pools have someone designated as the operator, and that every operator shall be trained in public pool and public spa operation and maintenance, filtration systems, water chemistry and all relevant safety and emergency procedures (O. Reg. 494/17, s. 5). We have seen a sharp increase in onsite condo staff training on the basic operations of the pool and spa. This not only complies with the health code, but it is an excellent way to ensure all staff are able to assist in maintaining proper chemical balance of the pool or spa. This will result in a reduction of chemical costs and less chance of shutdowns.
Tiling and Upgrades to Finishes
Over the past two years, many pool operators have reviewed the condition of the deck, the tiles and the pool finishes. A quick renovation or tile replacement is a tangible improvement to your facility by removing years of accumulated mold and grime that can build up. Even a simple regrout job or a thorough acid wash of your entire deck will sanitize and clean up old stains. Taking advantage of modern styles will make your pool look more visually appealing. With advancements in technology and materials, you can customize the tiling to suit your preferences and even add various designs to give your pool a unique appearance. Pools typically need a refresh every 5 years depending on the use and the type of coatings. Once the surface water lines become permanently stained, they need to be refreshed. Pool surface coatings have also advanced with new glass coatings available that will brighten up your pool and provide a longer lasting surface that is easier to clean, which will further enhance its appeal.
A fresh coat of paint and new surface water line makes a huge difference once the pool is filled.
Once you resurface your pool to make it more appealing, do not miss the opportunity to upgrade your pool lighting to include new LED underwater lights. Old lighting is not as bright as LED underwater lights and hence not as visually inviting. LED lighting can save up to 85% energy costs and can last 6 times longer than incandescent lighting. True white light provided from LED lighting will make your pool brighter and ensure clarity of the water. The changing colour features available in LED lights is also appealing for after-hours and social events.
Automated Systems It is more critical than ever to ensure your aquatics facility receives the proper chemical treatment it relies on to stay safely open. Pool automation systems have typically been limited to chemical controllers, which are a huge improvement over standard chemical feeder. With the realization of how important it is to have comprehensive systems that optimize water quality and protect users from waterborne illness, smart pool programs backed with 24/7 monitoring and emergency maintenance have now been developed and implemented throughout the USA and Europe. Systems such as the Aquatics Vision have received state approval in some areas eliminating the need for onsite testing of the water.
Automated systems provide a peace of mind through 24/7 visibility of what is happening in your pool and continuous monitoring reduces the chemical variations that increase chemical usage and costs. Features such as water level monitoring provide a valuable tool in detection and prevention of situations that can lead to serious damage. The best result of new automation systems is consistent sanitization of your pool or spa water to ensure it is always safe to use. Automated systems are a definite enhancement but do not allow an operator to wipe their hands and walk away from onsite maintenance.
A hybrid approach to pool maintenance is one that combines the ease-of-use and reliability of automation, while recognizing the need for regular manual maintenance and upkeep performed by a Certified Pool Operator. Until now there has not been a true hybrid solution like this in the aquatics industry.
Amenity Management and Check In Systems
With more protocols in place to support physical distancing and limit overcrowding in public areas, an accurate and sustainable head count has never been more important — nor easier — to enforce. Pool users will expect an easy, contactless solution to book space, check in and out of the pool or even access the pool area. As more organizations decide to opt for automatic sinks and soap dispensers, it is also important to provide peace of mind with population control to ensure a safe environment exists for all building occupants in the event of future variants. Amenity Management Systems have been designed to be easily implemented into any sized condo or apartment that provide booking of a range of facilities within your amenity space and can even be used for access and parcel delivery notices. Walking into crowded spaces without prior notice is fast becoming a turn off, not that it was welcomed before this heightened awareness in physical distancing. Now, with these tools available to prevent this from happening, a more enjoyable amenity experience for everyone occurs.
Sometimes, a good pool area or amenity does not even have to focus on swimming. Poolside furniture creates the perfect place for lounging, relaxing and unwinding. With more people staying at home, it may be worth setting up some tables to provide a remote office space or study space by the pool. Sometimes just being able to use your pool as a water feature can be more desirable than using the pool itself if it can provide a comfortable additional living space. Whatever furniture you decide to place by the pool, ensure that it is easy to clean and maintain and does not impede on the mandatory clear spaces surrounding your pool.
Saunas and steam rooms are gaining popularity and are welcome additions to any pool deck with the new self-contained systems available. Older saunas and steam rooms need to be cleaned and upgraded as the old tile, grout and wood can become a home to a multitude of germs and mold. Glass doors should be added to replace the old dark doors and lighting probably needs an upgrade. The old-style saunas that are generally dimly lit rooms are now a deterrent to many people not wanting to be trapped in a tight space that is poorly ventilated. The new prefabricated steam, saunas and wellness features can easily replace an old sauna room or can be added to any pool deck as an enhancement. They are stainless steel and PVC lined with antimicrobial finishes and come with a variety of glass wall and lighting features.
With the demand to get active without leaving your condo, programming your pool area is quickly returning as an excellent way to utilize this space and create some healthy living and social interaction. Via the Amenity Linc system, classes can be programmed and registered for using certified instructors.
Pool management companies either have trained staff to conduct these classes or can assist your condo community in setting up a program geared to your facilities.
Re-sizing your pool
Outdoor pools or indoor pools that exceed 93 sq meter of surface water require lifeguards to open for use unless there are less than 10 users. For many older outdoor pools this is a costly endeavor and limits the opening/closing dates and hours of operation and becomes a huge liability. Pool Renovation Technology systems are now available that can literally downsize your pool with a PVC lined stainless steel system that will allow you to clean up your pool area, extend the summer hours and eliminate the staffing requirements. These systems come with 25-year warranty on material so the payback in guest satisfaction and cost savings can make it worth considering.
A pool is such a large investment but an incredibly desired amenity. Learn how to enhance your swimming pool this summer to preserve its condition and keep it functioning for as long as possible.
As the renovation season is well under way and everyone is looking to open and get back to normal, now is the time to call in an experienced pool management company to provide you with options on a longterm strategy for your pool area.
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