• Al Raabe v. Environmental Health Officer

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    Decision Date: October 18, 1999

    Panel: Carol Quin

    Keywords: Sewage Disposal Regulation – ss. 6, 6.1, 7, Schedule 2 – s. 2; sewage disposal permit; refusal; high water table; conventional alternate system; raised mound/pressure distribution system; environmental control zone.

    This was an appeal of a decision of an Environmental Health Officer (“the EHO”) to refuse to issue a sewage disposal permit for a residential lot in Kelowna, B.C. In his letter and report rejecting the application for a permit to build a proposed sewage disposal system, the EHO noted evidence of a seasonal high water table in the area. He also noted that, although such sites normally required installation of a conventional alternate system such as the proposed raised mound/ pressure distribution system, the lot was situated in an environmental control zone (“ECZ”) where such alternate systems were disallowed under the Sewage Disposal Regulation. Mr. Raabe sought a permit to build a sewage disposal system as proposed, on the grounds of his belief that properties created prior to 1992 were exempt from ECZ status.

    The EHO noted in his submissions before the Panel that a mound system on the property in question was not in itself necessarily detrimental, but that permitting the use of alternate systems overall on all undeveloped lots in the ECZ could have a negative effect on nearby wells.

    The Panel interpreted the Regulation to be designed to protect the public health by requiring the application of standards, conditions and restrictions for the construction of sewage disposal systems. The Panel found that while applications for sewage disposal systems are considered on a site-specific basis, sites must also meet the requirements of the Regulation. The Panel found that while subsection 7(1) of the Regulation provided the EHO with the discretion to relax the standards set out in the various schedules, subsection 7(3) removed this discretion where properties in designated ECZ’s were concerned.

    The Panel held that the EHO was correct in his interpretation of the Regulation when he refused to issue a sewage disposal permit for an alternate system for the property. The Panel found that subsection 7(3) of the Regulation specifically excluded the use of alternate methods of sewage disposal, such as raised mounds, in ECZ’s, even on lots created prior to 1992. The appeal was dismissed.