• Leonard and Jean Marie Huot v. Environmental Health Officer

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    Decision Date: June 19, 1997

    Panel: Toby Vigod

    Keywords: Sewage Disposal Regulation – ss. 2(2), 3(3), 4(3), 7(1), 18(d) of Schedule 2; Innovative Designs and Technologies Policy; Land Title Act s. 215; Christina Lake Development Ltd. v. British Columbia (Ministry of Health, Director); standard for determining risk to public health not one of certainty.

    This was an appeal against a decision of the Environmental Health Officer refusing to issue a permit for an on-site sewage disposal system to the Appellants. The Huots wished to build a summer cottage on their Cowichan Lake waterfront lot. They applied for a permit, under s. 7 of the Sewage Disposal Regulation, to construct an alternate sewage disposal system consisting of a package treatment plant, a sand filter and a seepage pit. The EHO refused the application because it did not meet requirements of the Innovative Designs and Technologies Policy and did not adequately safeguard public health.

    The Board found that this was not the sort of system to which the Innovative Designs and Technologies Policy was intended to apply. However, even if the Policy did apply, it did not have the force of law and could not be used as the sole reason to deny permits to applicants who demonstrated that their systems met the provisions of the Health Act and the Sewage Disposal Regulation. The Board also found that it was not appropriate to consider the system under section 7 of the Regulation, titled “Alternate Methods”. Both innovative technologies and “unconventional” systems like the one proposed, are properly considered under the general permit section, section 3.

    The Board further found that although some uncertainty is inevitable in any application, in this case the combination of components in the proposed system would adequately protect the neighbours’ well, Cowichan Lake and the public health. The Board therefore ordered that the EHO’s decision be rescinded and a permit, with conditions, be issued to the Appellants. The appeal was allowed.