MH presses pause on septic re-inspection program
By Chad Ingram
Published July 5, 2018
Minden Hills council has decided not to move ahead with a contract with firm WSP Canada to conduct a septic re-inspection program for the township at this time.
As reported earlier by the Times, during a June 14 committee-of-the-whole meeting, Councillor Pam Sayne expressed numerous concerns about the proposed contract, which was the sole bid the township received for the project.
Ontario municipalities have been mandated to create mandatory septic re-inspection programs for their residents, but what was type of inspections are performed, is up to the municipalities themselves.
There are four basic types of septic inspection. Type 1 involves only paperwork and requires no site visit. Type 2 includes a site visit, but inspectors don’t actually look inside the tank. Type 3 involves a lid-off inspection of septic tanks and Type 4 includes a lid-off inspection, and then a second inspection after the tank has been pumped out.
Minden Hills had decide to use Type 4 inspections and late last year issued a request for proposals for the service.
The proposed contract included $100,000 in one-time fees, including $16,500 for two public information sessions the company could conduct. The inspection fees themselves would have been $390 per property, plus taxes.
Sayne, who said she would not support the contract and that it amounted to an open-ended agreement with a large corporation where much of the work would be contracted out to local people anyway.
During a June 28 council meeting, Mayor Brent Devolin said he agreed that moving ahead with the contract the way it was wasn’t the path to take.
“Obviously, there were concerns raised by members of council and certainly since, the public,” Devolin said. “There are some significant reservations, I would put it in a nutshell.”
“Some thoughts are maybe not to rush ahead today,” Devolin said, noting that soon, council would enter the so-called “lame duck,” period, where, in the year of a municipal election, councils are prohibited from making decisions regarding any major expenditures, among other activities.
“Obviously, Councillor Sayne had some impassioned points that she brought, that members of the public substantiated,” Devolin said. He added that in conversations with officials from Dysart et al, which is using Type 4 inspections, that there is high failure rate so far for septic systems in long-held cottaging areas; rates higher than 50 per cent in some areas.
“This is a game-changer in terms of how we may design the program and how it rolls out, and the other part of it is, the capacity of the people who do the repair and the fixing work, what ability we have within the county to deal with some of that,” Devolin said.
A task force, including Sayne, Councillors Jeanne Anthon, Jean Neville and staff members, will study the issue further.