Are you thinking of installing a pool this summer to take a dip in your garden? Pandemic demand means you may be late by now. (Aaron Favila / Associated Press – Image Credit)
Some companies that sell swimming pools and other swimming pool-related products in Ottawa say they have never seen such demand and likely do not have the inventory to meet it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has people staying at home and thinking about their backyards while at the same time having extra money that they aren’t spending on vacations, dining or entertainment, said Phil Morneault, sales director for Mermaid Pools.
“If people want a pool or hot tub, I’d say book an appointment for two weeks ago,” quipped Morneault.
“It’s a global shortage and city-wide. It’s a real thing.”
Mermaid Pools has sold out the pools in the ground and, like other companies, is booking installations for 2022.
“Even during a big heatwave, we don’t get that kind of demand.” – Gabrielle Rosler, Campbell Pools
And while installing an above-ground pool in May is usually not a problem, during the pandemic local businesses are fully booked until midsummer.
Many customers buy above-ground pool kits to install themselves instead – some calling from Alberta and BC, said Gabrielle Rosler, general manager of Campbell Pools.
“These are things we’ve never heard of and never seen,” said Rosler. “Even during a big heatwave, we don’t get that kind of demand.”
Allowed up to 80 percent in Ottawa
A concrete sign of a booming business are the applications to the city of Ottawa for permits for pool facilities.
Any private outdoor pool in Ottawa requires a permit stating that an acceptable fence is in place to keep young children from getting near the water.
The city of Ottawa received 702 requests for such permits in 2018, then 769 in 2019. However, after the 2020 pandemic, requests rose to 1,383, an 80 percent increase.
That surge was mainly due to pandemic demand, Steve Willis, general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development for the city, told a planning committee meeting Thursday.
The story goes on
(Some pool containment permits also came from local residents repairing pools damaged in recent years’ tornadoes.)
Morneault said there was “nothing left” after demand increased last year.
While Mermaid Pools has been trying to secure as much inventory as possible for this season, suppliers will only deliver as much, Morneault said.
And every week he is alerted that someone is raising his prices.
“It’s industry-wide and global, which presents a number of challenges for us,” Morneault said, referring to raw material shortages, manpower and supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic and even the winter storm in Texas.
Phil Morneault, sales director at Mermaid Pools, says the pandemic has resulted in strong demand for pools and hot tubs, while supply chain issues mean stores are unlikely to be selling above-ground pools. (Jean Delisle / CBC)
Pool liners, for example, are almost impossible to come by, he said.
According to Rosler, residents thought of swimming in the backyard even in the dead of winter and have already called to reserve pumps, heaters and automatic cleaners.
“It’s unreal. There has been no downtime,” Rosler said of the winter season when the industry was usually reforming.
“If we have another heat wave this May, it will only be bananas.”
With more pools, so does the risk – for example, there was an increase in drownings in Quebec in 2020.
Most drowning deaths occur in backyard pools and open water, according to the Lifesaving Society. A particular risk during the pandemic is caregivers believing they can both work from home and safely supervise children in pools.