Provincial downloading of septic systems inspections on municipalities would be ‘horrendous,’ says Billings council

KAGAWONG—It would be horrendous if the responsibility for sewage septic systems including inspections and pump outs is transferred from the provincial government to municipalities in Ontario, says Billings Township council.

“They (province of Ontario) want municipalities-townships to do the inspections for septic systems which are now done by the province,” stated Billings Mayor Austin Hunt at a council meeting last week. “We as municipalities would have to get (hire) an inspector for this work to be carried out,” said Mayor Hunt.

“This would be a horrendous thing for municipalities if it happens,” stated Councillor Brian Parker who asked, “and there would be no dollars to come with it?”

“They are proposing mandating authority over the inspections to municipalities and have us carry out these inspections,” said Mayor Hunt. He pointed out these services might be transferred to a municipality’s chief building official.

“It is something like responsibility for water treatment plants being downloaded on municipalities,” said Councillor Parker.

Council received a resolution from the Corporation of the Township of Madawaska Valley requesting Billings council’s support on this issue. 

In its resolution, council for the township of Madawaska Valley said in part, “the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has proposed change number B-08-09-03 to the 2012 Building Code O. Reg. 332/12 as amended; and whereas the proposed change requires septic tanks and other treatment units to be pumped out at least every five years, and records to be kept by the operator of the sewage system for submission to the child building official upon request. The changes identifying enforcement implications on principal authorities such as chief building officials due to the need for managing this program across their area of jurisdiction. The cost/benefit implication of the proposed changes fail to identify and include municipal costs resulting from the enforcement implications for chief building officials.”

Madawaska Valley council’s resolution notes that  the proposed change also fails to identify new provincial funding to offset these additional municipal costs, and says homeowners with septic systems are already responsible for the negative impacts of poor septic system maintenance. “And whereas the justification/explanation for the proposed change provides no evidence that mandatory pump outs every five years will enhance the maintenance of conventional systems.” As well, the Building Code Act could bestow sufficient authority to the council of a municipality to pass by-laws establishing and governing septic system maintenance inspection programs on an as needed-where needed basis to address local concerns. Therefore be it resolved that the council of the Township of Madawaska Valley requests that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs defer implementation of proposed change number B-08-09-03 to the 2012 Building Code O. Reg. 332/12 as amended until such time as municipal consultations are undertaken to determine the true cost/benefit implications for municipalities and sufficient evidence is provided to justify the need for a province-wide mandatory septic system maintenance program.”

Billings’s council passed a motion in support of Madawaska Valley council’s resolution.