Daycare where toddler nearly drowned lacked proper pool fence: inspectors report
An unlicensed daycare where a toddler nearly drowned last month lacked proper fencing and other protections around its backyard pool, according to a municipal inspection report.
Lambton County building inspectors examined the property at 4076 Juniper Cres. in Petrolia, Ontario, on February 2, eight days after 20-month-old Waylon Saunders was found unconscious by the pool and taken to the hospital. His mother told CBC News that it took doctors two hours to revive him after he was found unconscious in the pool. The boy was treated at Children’s Hospital in London for almost two weeks before he was stable enough to return home on Monday.
Located in a quiet residential area, no one appeared to be home when CBC News went to the house on Thursday.
However, a report posted on the front door said that city inspectors who visited the property after the near-drowning found a number of “defects” required by law at the home, including:
The height of the pool enclosure does not meet the legal minimum height of 5 feet. “Brick Kniewand is approximately 32 inches tall,” the report states.
A rear gate on the east side of the property had a self-closing and self-locking device as needed. However, the report states: “The self-closing function is intermittent and does not always cause the gate to close and lock itself. There is no lock.”
An external door is not equipped with a bolt as required.
A hot tub on the property does not have a permit, and the sliding glass door in the area where it was located “does not have a working latch, self-closing device, or deadbolt.”
The report also pointed to a “break in the enclosure” at the rear of the property where a section of fence had separated and “leaned significantly, causing an opening in the enclosure.”
Under “Required Actions,” the report requires property owners to immediately install temporary fences around the pool area that are at least five feet high while changes are made to the pool edging.
The order also requires that the hot tub be drained and not used until “a pool enclosure permit has been applied for, issued and reviewed by that department.” Promotional items also require locks and deadbolts on all doors, gates or entrances “out of the reach of children at least 4 feet tall” leading to the pool areas.
When CBC News visited the property on Thursday, part of the chain link fence surrounded the pool, which neighbors said had been put up since the near-drowning.
A construction waste bin on the property near the backyard was filled with parts from a demolished hot tub.
CBC News has reached out to a woman who sources say runs the daycare, but received no response Thursday. The inspection report lists the names of four people listed as “occupants and/or renters of the property,” but CBC News was unable to reach them.
Unlicensed home daycare is not illegal in Ontario. However, child care advocates are calling for the expansion of more licensed spaces.
More licensed rooms required
Rachel Vickerson is executive director of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario.
Although Vickerson is unable to comment on the Petrolia incident, Vickerson said a shortage of licensed daycares often forces parents to choose home-based daycares where operators are unlicensed.
“It’s incredibly scary for the family and the child, and the situation should never have happened,” she said.
“If this was licensed home childcare, there would have been regulations mandating gates preventing access to bodies of water,” she said.
Vickerson said there is a “significant shortage” of licensed child care services across the province.
“We’re hearing about very long waiting lists and there isn’t enough coverage for all the children in the province,” she said. “We know there’s still a long way to go, so families have these choices.”
Lambton County OPP is continuing to investigate the Jan. 25 incident. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.