• Douglas Lake Ranch v. Environmental Health Officer

    Decision Date:
    File Numbers:
    Decision Numbers:
    Third Party:
    Hatheume Lake Resort, Permit Holder


    Decision Date: June 30, 1995

    Panel: Ben van Drimmelen, Joan Rysavy, Jack Lapin

    Douglas Lake Ranch was adjacent to Hatheume Lake Resort. The resort’s sewage disposal system, a sewage lagoon, trespassed on the Ranch’s property and, as a result, was cancelled. Soon afterwards the resort applied for a new permit which would service an expanded resort. Although the original application would have required approval from the Ministry of Environment (Waste Management), the project was down-sized and approval was eventually given by the Ministry of Health (with consultation from Environment). Douglas Lake Ranch appealed.

    There were a number of grounds for appeal. However, the Board found them all to be irrelevant and/or unsupported by the evidence, with the exception of the last – the submission that the Ministry should have considered the Regional District’s land use policies about the environmental sensitivity of the area. However, the Board reluctantly came to the conclusion that for any sewage disposal application involving less than 4,999 gallons of effluent only human health need be considered; in fact, there was no legislative authority to consider the environment or the public interest. Consequently the Environmental Health Officer need not, indeed could not, consider the district’s policies.

    The Board recommended that regulations be passed under the Health Act to give officers the discretion to consider environmental impacts in approving sewage disposal permits. They also felt that the Health Act should be amended to require an interagency process when high environmental impact is likely and not when it is not, rather than assigning a cut-off point in volume after which an assessment is required.