The Saanich Engineering Department has heard from some homeowners in Cadboro Bay who are currently on private septic systems, and who are interested in connecting to the municipal sanitary sewer.
To share information community-wide, Saanich has prepared Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), available here and copied below.
Saanich has also distributed the FAQs to residents in the vicinity of Lockehaven Drive, where there has been recent interest.
Are septic systems outdated?
No, septic systems are not outdated. In fact, they can be found throughout Victoria, Vancouver island, and beyond. Septic systems are viable options for sewage disposal with robust solutions to address various site conditions. There is no additional risk to the environment or the municipal drinking water service as long as these systems are constructed properly and maintained in good working order.
Do my taxes already pay towards sanitary sewers?
No, municipal taxes do not pay for sewer service. In Saanich, the Sewer Service Area (SSA) is established by the Sanitary Sewer Bylaw, and is a utility, separate from property taxes. This service applies only to those properties within the established geographical boundary set in the bylaw.
What are the steps to connect to the municipal sanitary sewer?
An application to amend the sewer service area bylaw would need to be approved by Council. This involves:
Step 1 – Application
Submit a request in the form of a letter to the attention of the Director of Engineering. In consideration of the application the Engineering Department would seek to understand the following:
• If the application aligns with local area and official community plan policies
• If there is an existing known health hazard, such as a Health Order that has been issued by Island Health Authority identifying this condition
• If the property abuts or is across the street from the present SSA
• If an existing sewer line abuts the property
• If there is adequate capacity in the existing sewer to handle the additional flows
• Confirmation that the applicant accepts all costs to construct the facilities to provide the service
Step 2 – Council Approval
Upon completion of the application and submission of the supporting information to respond to the points above, the application for bylaw amendment would be put to Council for deliberation. A favourable decision of Council would be followed by the revision to the bylaw at subsequent Council meetings. There is no guaranty that Council will support an application.
Step 3 – Construction
Once the SSA bylaw is amended to include a new property, the applicant is responsible to complete the necessary engineering designs, obtain construction approval from the District and complete the work. For a “simple” application, this may be limited to paying a sewer connection fee because the pipe abuts the property. For complex cases, it is a full extension of the main in the roadway.
What direction does Saanich policy provide for new sewers?
Regarding sanitary sewers, the current Local Area Plan for Cadboro Bay states (policy 5.1): Consider only minor amendments to the Sewer Enterprise Boundary to include land which can be serviced by gravity to the sanitary sewer system without replacing or deepening existing sewers.
The Official Community Plan also states (policy 4.2.10 (12)): Consider extensions of the Sewer Service Area within the Urban Containment Boundary, based on health concerns, land-use policies and cost effectiveness to the Municipality.
Presently, the Cadboro Bay Local Area Plan is under review and residents have an opportunity to express their preferences for changes to the plan, however until a new LAP is adopted by Council the existing plan is in effect.
How much will it cost me to get a sanitary sewer service to my property?
Homeowners assume responsibility for paying all of the costs associated with the service expansion. This sum can range depending on the distance of the service extension and the number of properties involved. The applicant(s) would be responsible for retaining professionals to design the system and provide a detailed costs estimate, as well as hiring a contractor to build the infrastructure.
The sewer system downstream would also need to be evaluated for capacity. If there is insufficient capacity in the downstream sewer, the applicant(s) requesting service would also be responsible for the cost of upgrading those parts of the sewer system. These costs cannot be known until a detailed evaluation is performed.
Re-routing of plumbing on private property to connect to the sewer service and, once in operation, ongoing sewer fee charges are other expenses the homeowner can expect to pay. What do sewer service fees pay for?
The fees pay for the operation, maintenance, capital replacement of the existing sewer infrastructure and the cost to process the sewage at the regional treatment plant. Sewer service fees do not fund new infrastructure. The sewer service is a utility and is paid for by those rate payers that are part of the service area.
How long would it take to bring sewer service to our street?
The process to extend the sewer service area boundary can take several months to a year to complete depending on the complexity of the project and completeness of the application. If successful, the engineering design, construction approvals and construction implementation of the work could take another year or two to complete. All work is performed by the applicant’s contractors. The District would not construct the infrastructure.
Who can help me with this process?
Professionals such as engineers, planners and lawyers can support applicants in understanding the feasibility of the project and the complexity of the process. Saanich Engineering staff are available to respond to any questions about the process for sewer service expansion.
What is a Local Area Service (LAS)?
A local area service is a bylaw for a specific geographical area and the process for which is defined under the Community Charter. It allows Council to consider providing services to a part of the municipality in order to provide a particular benefit to that part of the municipality. It is initiated by Council receiving a signed petition from applicants with a common interest representing at least 50% of the property owners in the proposed local service area. If it meets preliminary approval, it must still be approved by Council in the form of passing a bylaw.
If the petition is successful at the bylaw stage, all property owners within the local service area will be required to pay their portion of the costs to bring the LAS into the neighbourhood through a local service tax. It is important to note that the cost of the service would likely be taxed to all property owners within the local service area who have the opportunity to benefit from the service. See section 212 of the Community Charter (gov.bc.ca) for more information.
Typically the costs would be divided among all the property owners in the local service area and amortized over 15 to 20 years. The amount is added to the annual property tax assessment for the duration of the amortization period.
All costs for the petition would be at the applicant’s expense.
Is Local Area Service a way to help fund sewer service on my street?
Council may consider a petition for LAS for sewer service if it meets the legislated thresholds. In making their decision on the petition, Council would consider the limitations imposed on the sewer service based on the boundary established in the sewer service bylaw, the existing policy statements in the OCP and LAP, the criteria outlined in “Step 1 Application” indicated above and any other relevant implications for the municipality.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
Further questions can be emailed to email@example.com to the attention of Lesley Hatch or by calling 250-475-5575.