Thinking of a backyard pool this summer? It may be too late in the Thompson Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thinking of a backyard pool this summer? It may be too late in the Thompson Okanagan

The region's backyard pool industry appears to be going swimmingly with an early and strong start to 2021.
January 17, 2021 - 9:00 AM

Last year’s outbreak of COVID-19 bolstered an already busy swimming pool market in Kamloops and the Okanagan, with many residents opting to build a backyard pool rather than go on vacation during the pandemic.

The City of Kelowna saw a big boost in pool permits issued early in the start of the pandemic last year, and the trend appears to be continuing in other communities as pandemic restrictions continue.

Unfortunately, if you are one of those contemplating a backyard pool for this summer, you may already be out of luck because contractors are so busy.

In the small residential community of Kaleden, (population 1,200), located just south of Penticton in the South Okanagan, regional district director Subrina Montieth says she’s been seen a huge uptick in interest.

“I’d normally get one or two calls a year for people asking about swimming pool requirements here in Kaleden, but in the past two weeks alone I’ve fielded about 15 inquiries,” Montieth says.

She’s aware of two pools approved for construction already this year in the community.

In Penticton, city Deputy Director of Development Services Ken Kunka says 25 pool permits were issued in the city last year with another four applications before development services since the beginning of 2021.

The city has seen 100 pool permits issued since the beginning of 2016 with an estimated construction value of more than $4.7 million.

“There has been an increase in pool permits and value of pools being installed over the last few years,” Kunka said in an email.

Kelowna has started the year at a similar pace with four pools approved for construction. (Last year, Kelowna saw more than 175 pool permits issued.)

Penticton’s Fun Water Pools co-owner Kevin Wolff agrees business is booming this year.

“We’re already booking into 2022. We’ve sold pools for 2022 we’re hoping we’ll be able to install this year, but we aren’t promising,” Wolff says. “We’ve never had so many calls. I just got off the phone with someone building a new home and was hoping to get to the front of the line for a new pool, but no one is jumping to the front of the line right now.”

Wolff says every year since 2012 has been busier than the year before. The pool builder works throughout the Okanagan from Vernon to Osoyoos and has also built pools in the Kootenays.

He says last year the industry dealt with supply issues as COVID-19 temporarily stopped factory production and demand made parts tough to find.

“We’re trying to get everything we need at the beginning of the year or we won’t have what we need,” Wolff says.

With this year’s mild winter, Wolff says he’s been tempted to try and start a few projects now, but says a change to more normal weather conditions would probably shut him down pretty quickly.

“When the weather turns sloppy, it just costs more money to build. Our crews put in such long hours all summer, they need this time to rest up,” he says.

Smaller backyards have reduced the footprint of an average pool over the years from 16x36 or 16 x 32 to 14x 28 feet these days.

Wolff says a typical budget for a 14x28 in ground pool will cost a homeowner around $60,000.

“It might be less, depending on options, but you could also spend $100,000 pretty quick,” he says.

Options like fountains, fancy water features can also add to the build time. A popular item these days is an automatic power cover that can run between $15 and $20,000. About 75 per cent of pool buyers buy them, because they can save heat, chemicals and pool water. They are also a safety feature,” Wolff adds.

The $60,000 price tag includes a modest concrete deck, gas and electric hookups.

Wolff says with products available nowadays, a pool owner can fully automate their pools and operate them from their cell phones.


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