Private Swimming Pools

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pool intro
  Step 1 – Get started with a plan
There are many items to think about when you decide to add a pool to your property. Before you commit to making a purchase, consider:
  • Type of pool: Temporary (seasonal use) or Permanent? Above-ground or in-ground? For an above-ground pool, you are required to submit a copy of the manufacturer’s specifications including diameter and water depth to Planning & Development Services. In-ground pools require more detailed information. Details
  • Depth: Pools which are over 600mm (2 feet) deep have different requirements than shallower pools. See steps 2 & 3 below.

  • Size: A swimming pool which is more than 15% of your property’s total area will generally not be allowed. 

  • Fence and gate requirements: The Alberta Building Code has specific regulations for enclosures around private swimming pools to prevent unauthorized access and ensure safety. Details

  • Location: It makes a difference where you put your pool on your property. For instance, you may not position it in your front yard, nor too close to your neighbour’s yard. Setback diagram

  • Overhead wiring: No overhead wiring can be above the pool, diving structure, tower of platforms or above the area extending 5.0m (16’5”) horizontally from the pool edge. Diagram

  • Underground services: There may be utility lines such as electric, gas, sewer, water or telecommunications in proximity to your planned pool location. These are major constraints for an in-ground pool and may also be a concern for a temporary pool, so you should determine the locations of any such underground utilities. Check Free utility locates below.

  • Draw a site plan: At minimum, your drawing must show municipal address, location of planned pool in relation to property lines and existing structures on site, fencing details and gate locations. It must also have proper measurements, north arrow and scale. Click for example
  Step 2 – Do I need a Development Permit?
A Development Permit must be applied for and approved prior to Building Permit and Trade Permit applications. A Development Permit is required if:
  • Pool will be in-ground and more than 600mm (2 feet) in depth, or
  • Pool will be above ground and more than 600mm (2 feet) in depth and a permanent structure
Development Permit Application              Accessory Structures Checklist


 icon_drill Step 3 – Do I need a Building Permit and Trades Permits?
Unless your pool will be 600mm (2 feet) or less in depth, a Building Permit is always required, because they have the potential to affect health and safety. This applies to temporary (seasonal) pools as well as permanent swimming pools.
Building Permit Application            Swimming Pool Checklist

Additional Trades Permits
are required for your swimming pool if your plan includes any of the following:
  • Direct connection to City water supply  Apply
  • Connection to City sanitary sewer system for drainage   Apply
  • Connection to City electrical system for heating, lights, etc   Apply

Above-ground, temporary pools which are assembled in the spring and dismantled in the fall only require an initial Building Permit. If it is the same pool, and is re-assembled in the exact same location as it was approved, you are not required to get a new permit each year.


  Step 4 – Getting approved
Where you live and the type of property you have will determine requirements. Please read the content of the links below carefully, and bring your completed documents with drawings to Planning & Development Services (2nd Floor, City Hall). We will do our best to help you.
Swimming Pool Checklist        Swimming Pool Brochure

Where to apply
Planning & Development Services
2nd Floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE, Medicine Hat
Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30pm

Email us


How long does it take to get permits?
Permit timelines vary, based on the type of application and the impacts to the neighbourhood. Generally it takes about 5-6 business days for either a Development Permit or a Building Permit.

There are risks if you don't obtain permits
If you, as a homeowner or contractor, do not have permits for work that has been started or completed, there could be consequences if you do not take action to correct the situation, such as:
  • Enforcement Action issued by a City inspector
  • A fine for building without a permit
  • Having to undo work that has been completed
  • Future legal and financial issues when selling the property or making an insurance claim
  • Having to do more work that was originally planned and budgeted, to fix deficiencies
  • Potential liability to you, the homeowner, in the event of an accident
  Note: As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying any penalties, even if you hired a contractor who assured you that permits were not required.
Remember, we are here to help! Call Planning & Development Services at 403.529.8374.

Tips on hiring contractors

  I already purchased an above-ground pool. What should I do?
Call Planning & Development Services at 403.529.8374. Requirements will vary depending on the property, so each situation must be looked at individually. If the pool is full of water, you may be asked to drain it and an inspector may come by to check that installation complies with Alberta Building Code. Depending on your situation, there may be cost factors involved that prohibit the installation of a swimming pool.

  Filling and draining your swimming pool
  • When filling with garden hose: Keep the end of the hose out of the pool water during filling to prevent potentially contaminating the water supply to your house. An alternative is to install a hose bib vacuum breaker (available from any plumbing supply store) to prevent the water from reversing direction.
  • Do not leave your pool unattended when filling, or set a timer as a reminder! Overfilling may lead to pool collapse, and the resulting flood of water could damage your neighbours’ property or your own.
  • Draining to sewer system: Discharge your pool water to the City’s sanitary sewer system by draining, pumping or back washing filters into the floor drain in the basement of residence with a hose. Do not discharge swimming pool water to any street, lane, sidewalk, drainage ditch, adjacent property or nearby body of water.
  • Draining alternatives: If your pool is not large, it can be slowly discharged onto your property, if the water remains within your property until it evaporates or soaks into the ground. Or you may choose to hire a licensed wastewater hauler to have your pool water removed.
  What about decorative ponds?
Ponds for decorative or landscaping purposes do not require Development Permits nor Building Permits, providing the pond is 600mm (2 feet) in depth or less.
  • Seek advice from a professional garden centre or landscape designer when designing and building a decorative pond.
  • For tips, see the City of Medicine Hat Landscaping Guidelines
  • Keep your pond clean to prevent odour, algae build-up and mosquito breeding.
  • Never leave children unsupervised near any pool, pond or any water feature.
  • You should call for utility locates before installing a decorative pond (see below).
Free utility locates
Call for utility locates at least two working days in advance of the planned work.
  • Electric and Gas (City of Medicine Hat) 1.800.242.3447
  • Sewer and Water (City of Medicine Hat) 1.403.529.8176
  • Shaw 1.866.344.7429
  • Telus 1.800.242.3447
This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Medicine Hat accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.