Sayne cites septic concerns
By Chad Ingram
Published June 21, 2018
Minden Hills Ward 2 Councillor Pam Sayne has numerous concerns about the lone bid the township received for the delivery of a mandatory septic re-inspection program, and the township’s building and bylaw officer will be following up with the company.
Municipalities have been mandated by the province to create septic re-inspection programs, although what type of inspections are performed is up to each individual municipality.
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 will use Type 4 inspections and late last year issued a request for proposals for the service.
As a report from building and bylaw officer Colin McKnight indicates, that process resulted in one bid from firm WSP Canada.
The contract would include what the company calls “stand-alone costs,” which would total more than $100,000, plus taxes.
The bulk of this amount is $85,700 plus taxes – or $13 and change, per property – for the scheduling portion of the program.
“The township would be invoiced after the work is complete,” McKnight’s report reads. “This amount includes the preparation and scheduling of letters, including postage, etc. to property owners and scheduling for each type of inspection.”
A fee of nearly $90 plus taxes would be charged for the completion of any required third-party inspections, that is, situations where WSP would review inspections that property owners may have had completed by other companies. According to McKnight’s report, that would include reviewing the reports and company credentials, transcribing data and providing confirmation to the property owner and the township.
“It will be the responsibility of the property owner to provide all documentation to WSP,” the report reads.
The company would also charge $16,500 plus HST for two public information sessions it intends to conduct, and the company would charge $700 plus HST for each council meeting representatives of the company are requested to attend.
Another, one-time fee of $17,625 would be charged for the start-up of the program, which according to the report, “includes a review of existing septic records, risk assessment, mapping and database creation.”
The inspections themselves, which would include pre-pumping, post-pumping and post-remedial pumping would cost approximately $390, plus taxes, each.
It is unclear at this point how much each inspection fee would cost residents themselves.
The initial contract would be for a three-year term, with two, one-year extension options.
Sayne said the proposed contract posed myriad problems for her.
“With deep regret, I can’t support this,” Sayne said, adding she’s reviewed the report multiple times. “I have extreme concerns about this, I don’t know where to start, I have pages of thoughts.”
Sayne said to her the contract amounts to an open-ended agreement with a large corporation where much of the work would be contracted out to local people anyway. She also questioned whether the proposed schedule of nine inspections per day, or eight inspections per day for waterfront properties, was possible.
“We’re taking something that is the private responsibility of every homeowner and putting it into a public management situation,” she said.
Sayne said there were better ways of conducting the inspections, such as the system that’s been adopted in Dysart et al, where residents can choose from a list of pre-approved companies and have a deadline by which to submit their paperwork to the municipality.
“In comparison, where, I’ll use the Dysart example, where they’re putting all the onus of the homeowner . . . so selecting qualified people who are qualified through their roads department, to do the work,” Sayne said. “They can call any of those companies who are qualified and certified, and there’s no additional cost. The homeowner can do it at their convenience.”
Sayne said this model allows groups of neighbours to band together, and a hire a company to do a round of pumpings in one day.
“It’s a neighbourhood responsibility, not a harsh letter from the municipality,” she said.
Apart from what she called an “administrative quagmire,” Sayne also questioned whether the area had the capacity to accommodate the amount of septage the program would produce.
“Certainly, in terms of the pump-out, there’s been conversations with both Thomas [Francis Thomas Contracting] and Shepherd [Shepherd Environmental Services], and they’re aware of the path we’re likely to take, and between the two of them, they’re confident they have the capacity to deal with what’s coming forward,” said Mayor Brent Devolin. Devolin added he would digest Sayne’s many concerns.
“It’s a plan, there’s no perfect plan, it’s the most intensive look,” Devolin said,
McKnight will be contacting the company for further clarification of some of the details in the proposed agreement.
Haliburton County’s three other lower-tier municipalities – Dysart et al, Highlands East and Algonquin Highlands – have each already adopted septic re-inspection programs.