Despite the U.S. building slump, much of the Canadian market has held strong and may even be poised for growth.
With the availability of credit and a relatively stable economy, several builders are getting as much work as they can handle.
“I’ve got six crews and we’re just swamped,” said Gene Brown, co-owner of Valley Pool & Spa in Kelowna, British Columbia. “With what’s floating around, there’s probably two years’ worth of work for me.”
In 2008, inground pool sales in the entire province were up 6.7 percent, thanks mostly to high-end concrete and vinyl-liner projects. On the other side of the country, sales were up 8.7 percent in Quebec, with a 22 percent increase of pool permits in Montreal.
Markets that aren’t making major gains appear to remain steady.
“Even at the end of last year, we didn’t see any [drop] in the Halifax market, and I’m not expecting any major changes,” said Kara Redden, manager at R&R Pools in Timberlea, Nova Scotia.
Adding to sales are equipment and accessory sales, which were up 4 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Commercial pool building shouldn’t slow much either. The federal budget for the next two years provides $500 million to support the construction and renovation of recreational facilities. The government will cover up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with funding allocated to provinces by population size.
“The bulk of our business is in the public sector, and it’s a very good market,” said Walter Schmoll, CEO of Hollandia Pools and Spas in London, Ontario.
The Canadian government also is lending a helping hand to the residential sector. A 15 percent tax credit up to $1,350 has been issued for home renovation projects. Good through Feb. 1, 2010, the credit can be applied to expenditures exceeding $1,000, and applies to inground and aboveground pools, decking, landscaping, and patio work.
Though it’s too early to determine an impact on pool sales, several builders already are incorporating the news into their marketing campaigns.
“It’s certainly a great window of opportunity, so we’re hoping homeowners will jump at the chance,” said Rob Wood, executive director of the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada.
The PHTCC currently is trying to get a determination on whether or not hot tubs apply, he added.