In last month’s article I wrote about the 100 m Lake Development Permit which has worked its way into the Official Community Plans in Area C and F.
The article addressed the point that the Development permit requirements may in fact discourage property owners from upgrading their septic systems. I had indicated that the cost of upgrading a system could be as high as $20,000 plus the $4,000 for hydrology report required under the development permit. Looks like I grossly underestimated the costs. I was contacted by a Shuswap Lake waterfront property owner who was quoted $33,000 for a new system to replace their dry well. They couldn’t afford the cost so they didn’t proceed. To them, another $4,000 would have put a replacement system even further out of reach.
The trigger for a Development Permit with respect to septic systems is “Installation, alteration, or replacement of (or a portion of) a sewerage system.”
Here are a couple of other points to consider.
The provincial legislation covering residential septic systems, the BC Sewerage System Regulation allows for immediate emergency repairs. The Development Permit process doesn’t so any repairs must be carried out after the $4,000 hydrology report and a delay of up to 4 months to get the permit in place.
This same legislation allows for the repair and replacement of a number of components without a filing with Interior Health. Again not so for the Development permit process.
The choice to homeowners remains to do nothing about a problem, fix the problem illegally without a Development Permit before there is a health hazard, or spend $4,000 on a hydrology report plus the $200 application fee followed by a $150 registration fee to get a Development Permit and delay repairs by up to 4 months.
I think it is important to recognize that the BC Sewerage System Regulation and Standard Practice Manual were developed in consultation with industrial manufacturers, professional and technical practitioners, and the system installers. While it isn’t perfect by any means, at least there is a common sense approach to protecting public health that is lacking in the development permit process.