Brock Township residents outraged by septic inspection fee

In four December letters to Council, Brock Township residents expressed outrage about bills for $170 to cover the cost of septic inspections from months previous.

The inspections were as a result of provincial legislation intended to protect drinking water throughout Ontario. In 2006, the provincial government passed the Clean Water Act. Under the Act, 19 source protection regions were designated in Ontario, including the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region.

On July 1, 2015, the Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Plan came into effect, eventually resulting in mandatory inspections.

In her letter to Council, dated Dec. 14, Carole Ditomaso says she’s not opposed to the inspections, rather the cost to the property owner.

“I am supportive of the initiative to ensure homeowners maintain their septic systems to protect our very critical clean water resource but I object to the amount of the fee we are asked to pay,” writes Ditomaso.

“$170 seems rather steep considering the inspectors we had were students and were only at the property for a short time. Our house is fairly new so we had the records of the septic installation and subsequent inspection which I am sure made the job easier.

“I realize that there are other costs for record keeping, travelling costs, etc… but I am asking that the fee be re-evaluated and if necessary scaled to amount for the different degrees of difficulty in performing the evaluation.”

Robert and Joyce Summers, as well as Louis Jewell, go as far to suggest they should be reimbursed the cost of the inspection.

“We received a letter from Durham Region stating that it is mandatory to have an on-site sewage maintenance inspection, under the 2006 Clean Water Act and Lake Simcoe Protection Act of 2008. We received a subsequent letter dated July 5, 2017, stating that under the Ontario Building Code, on June 30, Durham Region Health Department conducted a mandatory maintenance inspection of the sewage system, and we passed. The letter also states that the inspection must take place every five years. There was no mention of being billed,” reads the letter from the Summers, dated Dec. 20.

“It (was) extremely upsetting to us as seniors to receive a bill from Brock Township for $170 on Dec. 4, 2017, with a memo stating that the invoice must be paid within 30 days. This is totally unacceptable,” continues the letter.

“At this time we are requesting a refund of $170, based on the fact that the Durham Region and the Township of Brock obviously do not communicate.”

Jewell appeared to simply provided the details of his property, including the distance from the tank to the water, before stating, “I think I should get my money back.”

According to Thom Gettinby, Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk for the Township, the fee is set by the Region.

“The Township contracted with the Region to undertake the inspections (similar to septic approvals). The fee is based on the Region’s time to complete the inspection as well as administrative costs,” says Gettinby.

With respect to the delay between the date of inspections and the issuance of the invoices, as noted in Cory Wiatrzyk’s letter, Gettinby again says it’s related to the Region’s work.

Wiatrzyk questions why the bill was received “right before Christmas” when the inspection was reportedly completed in July.

“Invoices are sent out after we receive a report from the Region identifying the number of properties inspected and who they are – hence the delay,” Gettinby says.

Furthermore, Wiatrzyk says the price does not reflect the work completed.

“The price needs to change because it might have taken someone around 5 minutes to look for puddles. Hard job for $170,” writes Wiatrzyk.

In total, Gettinby says 118 inspections were completed in 2017. According to the minutes from the Jan. 15 council meeting, where these letters were received, approximately 400 properties are affected by the re-inspection requirements.

As per the minutes, Regional Councillor Ted Smith acknowledged the frustration expressed by residents but indicated he is “not in favour of rescinding Council’s decision (to participate in the program) as it would be a significant cost for the Township to bear, noting that Uxbridge has the same charge back program.”

Mayor John Grant, according to the minutes, advised that these costs are included within the property tax in some municipalities but rural properties owned in Brock do not subsidize those residents who are on municipal or Regional services.

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