Dysart postpones changes to septic re-inspection program

By Chad Ingram

The Municipality of Dysart et al will be postponing changes to its septic re-inspection program until 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis councillors decided during a May 5 meeting.

In February council decided it would make changes to the format of the municipality’s septic re-inspection program. While it’s a provincial requirement that municipalities have such a program in place the format of the program is up to each individual local government. Adopted in late 2017 and including what is known as a Level 4 inspection Dysart’s program had required property owners to perform a pump-out of their septic systems before a lid-off inspection is performed. Its program was the only one in the county to contain that requirement.

As a report from chief building officer Karl Korpela indicated at the time as of the end of 2019 964 properties in a section of the municipality designated as “Area 1” under the program had been through the process. Korpela’s report read that 112 property owners had failed to have the mandatory pump-out completed or submit a third-party inspection report another requirement of the program.

“Although this represents only 12 per cent of properties beyond issuing 112 orders to comply dealing with even a quarter of these infractions is not possible with our current staffing” his report read.

It was Korpela’s recommendation to remove the mandatory pump-out from the process and the plan had been for the municipality to begin conducting Level 3 inspections this year. Level 3 inspections which require a lid-off inspection but not a mandatory pump-out have worked successfully in the Township of Algonquin Highlands and are also being implemented in Minden Hills.

However a report from Korpela received by council last week recommended holding off with the continuation of the program until 2021 in light of the restrictions that have been put in place by the provincial government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime once restrictions are lifted any outstanding inspections in Area 1 would be completed.

“Due to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on committee/council meetings and defined essential services it is not advisable to move ahead at this time with the revisions to the program” the report reads. “It is recommended that we aim for 2021 to implement the full revised program. Development of the revised program would proceed throughout 2020 as restrictions are lifted and as time permits.”

Councillors were fine with this plan with the exception of Ward 4 Councillor John Smith.

Smith had been opposed to downgrading to Level 3 inspections during council’s winter discussion and Smith and Korpela disagree as to whether a mandatory pump-out provides environmental benefit in terms of lake health. Smith re-iterated his preference for Level 4 inspection.

“To me for us to walk away from that now . . . is a disservice to the quality of water in our lakes” Smith said.

Smith voted against Korpela’s recommendation while the remainder of council supported it.