Lunar Bloom has made the top 100 in the CBC spotlight contest. From left Jocelyn Regina Brittany Robinson and Kelly McNamee. /Photo by Brendee Green

Low participation in first year of septic reinspection program

By Jenn Watt

Published Feb. 19 2019

Chief building official Karl Korpela came to the Dysart environment and climate change committee meeting Feb. 7 looking for feedback on how to proceed with year two of the septic reinspection program after only 28 per cent of those eligible took part the first year.

Dysart’s program is moving systematically through the municipality requiring property owners within 30 metres of a lake have a complete septic reinspection including a pump-out.

In 2018-2019 area one was defined as Kennisis Lake Little Kennisis Lake and Paddys Bay. Seventy-nine of 271 properties on Little Kennisis completed their inspection; 200 of the 730 properties on Kennisis did so.

“The results of the program: less than stellar” Korpela told the committee.

Dysart is having third party inspectors do the work. There have been very few complaints about the program but with less than one year left for area one and about 700 properties to go the timeline is tight Korpela said.

Councillor John Smith who represents the ward including Kennisis Lake had a more positive outlook on the low uptake.

He said he’d been a strong advocate for the program in his ward speaking regularly with constituents during the election.

“Because of the time I spent advocating for this with the lake association some people up there call me the Poop King … because of the fact I’ve been such a vocal proponent for better care of our septics and an inspection program” Smith said “As I went door-to-door I had miniscule complaints on this. People were very enthusiastic about it talked very positively about the fact it was in place.”

He thought property owners could be taking a wait and see approach since they still have 2019 to comply with the bylaw.

“Don’t look at the 28 per cent as a failure or a disappointment. It’s a new program. We’re nearly a third of the way along the journey” he said.

Councillor Walt McKechnie said he would like to see more information given to the public.

“I think that the cottagers have got to understand that the half a million million two-million [dollar] property they’re sitting on if those lakes ever go bad … it can happen. I really think that we’ve got to educate people more and more to be proactive and monitor their own backyard” he said.

Committee members discussed whether a change should be made to the program removing the pump-out requirement which could speed up the process.

HomePro Inspections Central Ontario created a mock-up of signage that could be used to create “positive peer pressure.” After a septic reinspection the property owner would place the sign at the end of their driveway. Committee members did not make any decisions about whether to use the sign or a similar campaign. /Courtesy of HomePro Inspections

Mike Rahme of HomePro Inspections Central Ontario said skipping that step would mean some malfunctioning systems would be missed.

“We’ve done inspections for a lot of people who are very adamant about septic care and appalled when we open up the lid and the back wall of the tank is gone. Nobody knows until you get in and look at it” he said calling a switch to a less involved inspection system “three steps back.”

To help with promoting the program Rahme brought a mock-up of signage that could add “positive peer pressure.” The signs read: “We’ve done our part! Septic inspection completed.” No decision was made on the signage.

Committee members decided that Korpela should continue with the program as usual and that emphasis should be put on amping up education in the year to come.