• Abdel M. Mousa v. Manager, Health Protection

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    Decision Date: March 12, 2001

    Panel: Tracey Cook

    Keywords: Sewage disposal permit; Sewage Disposal Regulation – ss. 3, 7(2); holding tanks; temporary system; health hazard; bylaw; weekly sewage flow.

    This was an appeal by Abdel Mousa of a decision by the Health Protection Manager for the Simon Fraser Health Region refusing to issue a permit to install two temporary sewage holding tanks on a property in Burnaby. The Manager refused the permit on the ground that it did not provide for a long-term solution to the health hazard on the property. In 1988, the Health Region discovered that the existing sewage disposal system on the property had failed. Mr. Mousa then made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain a permit to repair the system (see Appeal No. 99-HEA-04, October 14, 1999).

    The Board found that there is nothing in the legislation preventing a permit from being issued for a temporary system, or suggesting that the requirements for a temporary system are different from those for more permanent solutions. Furthermore, such an interpretation is consistent with Ministry of Health policy. However, if a temporary system were to be permitted, the Appellant would have to amend his application to provide a specific time frame for the system’s installation and duration of use.

    The Board found that section 7(2) of the Sewage Disposal Regulation was not the appropriate section for considering whether to issue the permit, since the Appellant’s application was not for the repair or alteration of the Appellant’s existing septic system.

    The Board found that a permit should not be issued under section 3 of the Sewage Disposal Regulation because there was insufficient information and too many unknowns to find that the proposed system would not pose an unreasonable risk to public health. In particular, there was no credible estimate of weekly sewage flow, no endorsement by a professional engineer based on credible estimates, and there was a legitimate concern about irresponsible use of the storage tanks. The Board found, however, that a policy requirement for a municipal bylaw was not relevant in this case, given the temporary nature of the storage tanks.

    The appeal was dismissed.