Dysart et al is pausing its planned overhaul to its septic re-inspection bylaw due to COVID-19 but will require outstanding properties in the first testing area to get inspected.

Council passed a resolution May 5 to postpone revisions to 2021. The municipality had planned to alter its program to be handled by a third-party contractor and no longer require pumpouts but decided to wait given the impact COVID-19 has had on municipal operations.

However, chief building official Karl Korpela said the situation should allow them to test the 112 properties that failed to comply with the bylaw around the Kennisis Lake area in 2019, where the first round of inspections occurred.

“We’re looking to kind of revise that process because we will have time this summer,” Korpela said.

The 112 properties will be sent an order with an identified date for inspection, with a $250 fee. If an owner or representative fails to attend, they will be charged another $250 with another inspection date, with the process repeating until compliance.

Initially, those 112 properties were going to be placed into the second round of inspections, meaning they would avoid having to get pump-outs their neighbours did.

The Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association has protested that, as well as dropping mandatory pump-outs. The revised process will force those 112 properties to get a pump-out by a certified septage hauler within one month of inspection, with the hauler also verifying the tank’s condition afterwards.

But Coun. John Smith, the lone councillor to vote against the revised process, took issue with that. He noted certified inspectors had looked at tanks immediately after they were pumped out and said the same should occur this year.

“Eight-hundred people who had their septics inspected in Area 1 so far have had their inspector and pumper there at the same time,” Smith said. “Why would we not continue with the same approach with the 112?”

Korpela said it would not be practical to repeat that this summer, given the modified process.

“What if those owners are not there? We’ll have to pay those pumpers to follow us around to not pump anything,” Korpela said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Smith said haulers are not required to get any qualification or training with respect for assessing tanks after a pump-out and that task should be left to an inspector. Korpela disagreed and said in his opinion, a qualified pumper could do that to the same standard.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said there could be more discussion in the fall about a revised process and said it is good the municipality is proceeding with some inspections when it could have easily done nothing due to COVID-19.

“We will have more fulsome discussion on this when we look to revise the bylaw,” Roberts said.

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