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BCC Ruling No. 00-26-758

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IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences, and of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99, 597/99 and 205/00 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Rudy Kmetic, Property Owner (prospective), 33 Merkley Square, Scarborough, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Robert Hexter, Chief Building Official, County of Lambton, Ontario to determine whether proposed Class 1 (composting and incinerating toilet) and Class 2 (greywater system) systems in lieu of a Class 4 septic system to serve a newly built seasonal dwelling, complies with Sentence when considering Sentences and, and a subsequent proposal to include a different type of a Class 1 system (flush unit/composting toilet), a Class 2 system and a Class 3 system provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences and of the Ontario Building Code at 28 Smuggler's Lane, "Chicken Island", Port Franks, Ontario.

Mr. Rudy Kmetic, Property Owner (prospective)
33 Merkley Square
Scarborough, Ontario

Mr. Robert Hexter
Chief Building Official
County of Lambton

Mr. Bryan Whitehead (Vice Chair)
Mr. Frank Wright
Mr. Doug Robinson

Toronto, Ontario

June 1st, 2000

June 1st, 2000

Mr. Rudy Kmetic, Property Owner (prospective)
33 Merkley Square
Scarborough, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Mark Wetering
Junior Planner
County of Lambton
Designate for the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Rudy Kmetic, Property Owner (prospective), 33 Merkley Square, Scarborough, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a seasonal dwelling and install Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 sewage systems at 28 Smuggler's Lane, "Chicken Island", Port Franks, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The Applicant has applied for a building permit to construct a Group C - seasonal dwelling which is proposed to be serviced by two alternative combinations of Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 sewage systems. The proposed dwelling will contain two bedrooms, 4.5 plumbing fixture units and will have a total finished area of 96 m2. The calculated daily design sewage flow is 900 litres.

The original proposal was for a Class 1 self-contained composting toilet and a Class 2 leaching pit. After discussion with the Chief Building Official regarding the requirement for a water closet, the proposal was changed to include (in addition to the Class 2 greywater system) a different Class 1 composting toilet comprising of a one pint (0.568 litre) flush unit and a central composting system to be located under the main floor bathroom and connected to a Class 3 (cesspool) system. This alternate proposed toilet unit would be a "Sealand 510 Travellers" model which is described as meeting the requirements for a water closet in that it is connected to a water supply system and is certified under CAN/CSA B-45 "General Requirements for Plumbing Fixtures". Both the toilet and the composting unit are equipped with vent stacks for the elimination of odours. The effluent from the 4.5 fixture units in excess of the sanitary fixture (the composting toilet) will be directed to the Class 2 greywater system.

The site is one of a limited number of lots on Chicken Island that has received provincial consent for severance and residential development, though under restrictive conditions. The area is accessible only by water and has no municipal services available. Any development that may demand extension of such services is prohibited by the Official Plan due to the fact that the lands on this island are environmentally sensitive.

The lot is described as a cottage property with minimum slope. It is mostly covered with dune grass and scrub vegetation and measures 31 m by 52 m covering an approximate total area of 0.16 ha. The depth to high groundwater table, according to the Applicant, is 1.6 to 3 metres. The percolation time of the native soil is reported to be less than 1 minute per centimetre. No soils evaluations were carried out to determine the percolation time or the specific level of the high groundwater table.

The water supply to the dwelling will be from a well.

The construction in dispute involves the proposed combinations of Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 sewage systems to serve the subject dwelling unit.

  1. Dispute

There are two issues at dispute before the Building Code Commission. The first issue concerns the original proposal which consists of a Class 1 self-composting toilet and a Class 2 greywater system. In this case the dispute is whether the construction of Class 1 and Class 2 systems in lieu of a Class 4 septic system to serve the proposed seasonal dwelling complies with Sentence, when considering Sentences and of the OBC (Ontario Building Code). The second issue before the commission concerns the subsequent proposal which replaces the self-composting toilet with a one pint flush toilet connected to a Class 3 (cesspool) system. In this case the dispute is whether this proposal provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences and

With regard to the first issue at dispute, Sentence classifies different types of on-site sanitary sewage systems under the OBC. These systems have been defined under Article and are referred to as private sewage disposal systems in Sentence Every on-site sanitary sewage system classified under the OBC has its own design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance requirements that are regulated by the OBC. A composting/incinerating toilet system, a greywater system, and a cesspool are among the recognized sewage systems which are regulated under Part 8 of the Code. These systems have been classified, respectively, as Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 systems under Sentence

Sentence states that a dwelling unit with a water distribution system must be provided with certain fixtures including a water closet. The water distribution system referred to in this sentence is defined as "an assembly of pipes, fittings,... that conveys water from the water services pipe or private water supply system (in this case a private well) to water supply outlets, fixtures, plumbing appliances, and devices" under Article Water closets are one of the required fixtures in a dwelling unit that must be provided with a water connection as stipulated by Sentence The proposed composting toilet is not connected to a water supply system as mandated by this provision.

Sentence requires every sanitary drainage system to be connected to a public sanitary sewer, a public combined sewer or a private sewage disposal system. The sanitary drainage system referred to in this sentence is defined as an assembly of pipes, fittings, fixtures and appurtenances on the property that is used to conduct sanitary sewage to a main sewer or private sewage disposal system. Sanitary sewage means liquid or water borne waste ... of domestic origin, including human body waste, toilet or other bathroom waste, and shower, tub, culinary, sink and laundry waste.

Greywater, on the other hand, is defined as sanitary sewage of domestic origin which is derived from fixtures other than sanitary units. A sanitary unit under the Code means a water closet, urinal, bidet or bedpan washer. Put simply, a water closet is defined as a sanitary unit that not only is connected to a water supply system, but also conducts human body waste to a sewer or private sewage system. However, a Class 2 system is a greywater system designed for effluent other than that originating from human bodies. As a result, a requirement for a water closet in a dwelling unit as stipulated by Sentence generally restricts installation of a Class 2 system. At issue is whether this restriction must be considered while applying Sentence to a seasonal dwelling unit.

With regard to the second issue at dispute, Sentence sets out horizontal clearance distances which must be maintained between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 systems and property lines as well as natural features such as wells and lakes. Sentence requires these distances to be increased where the percolation time of the native soil is less than 10 minutes. In this case, the percolation time of the native soil is reported to be less than 1 minute.

No information was provided as to the type of the well (dug or drilled) or the proposed well location. There was no information offered regarding the location or type of wells on adjoining properties. Nor was any information provided regarding the proposed location for the Class 2 and Class 3 (cesspool) systems. However, considering the dimensions of the subject lot (31 m by 52 m), the issue is whether the required setbacks as mandated by the OBC can be met.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence - Classification of Systems

  1. All sewage systems shall be classed as one of the following:

    1. Class 1 - a chemical toilet, an incinerating toilet, a recirculating toilet, a self-contained portable toilet and all forms of privy including a portable privy, an earth pit privy, a pail privy, a privy vault and a compositing toilet system,
    2. Class 2 - a greywater system,
    3. Class 3 - a cesspool,
    4. Class 4 - a leaching bed system,
    5. Class 5 - a system which requires or uses a holding tank for the retention of hauled sewage at the site where it is produced prior to its collection by a hauled sewage system.

Sentence - Sanitary Drainage Systems

  1. Every sanitary drainage system shall be connected to public sanitary sewer, a public combined sewer or a private sewage disposal system.

Sentence - Required Fixtures

  1. In a dwelling unit with a water distribution system, a kitchen sink, lavatory, bathtub or shower stall and water closet shall be provided.


  1. Except as provided in Sentences and (2), no Class 1, 2, or 3 sewage system shall have a horizontal distance of less than that permitted by Table



  1. Unless it can be shown to be unnecessary, where the percolation time is less than 10 minutes, the clearances listed in Articles and for wells, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, springs or streams shall be increased to compensate for the lower percolation time.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that because of the unique circumstances prevailing on Chicken Island, it is appropriate to use a self-contained composting toilet, thereby avoiding the discharge of contaminants into the soil on an environmentally sensitive area.

The Applicant argued that according to his information, even the best septic or wastewater systems only break down 90 percent of the suspended solids and fecal coliform. Preventing any pollutants from contacting the soil and water by using a composting toilet appears to be the best answer given the soil conditions. The Applicant stated that the Asauble Bayfield Conservation Authority appears to support the original servicing proposal.

The Applicant indicated that he originally wanted a self-contained composting toilet. However, to meet the requirements of having a water closet, he had amended his proposal to include a one pint flush toilet, a different type of composter, and a Class 3 "cesspool" (in addition to the Class 2 system).

With respect to the question of using a Class 4 system, the Applicant argued that installation of an "Ecoflo" system, as recommended by the Respondent, is neither physically nor financially feasible. The area is isolated and only accessible by water which makes both installation and maintenance of the system very difficult and expensive. The seasonal use of the cottage and low sewage flow rate makes installation of such an expensive system even less attractive.

The Applicant concluded that even though he wants to comply with all requirements of the OBC, he would be most satisfied if he is allowed to install an affordable system.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that if the proposed composting toilet system meets the requirements for water closets under the Code, then a Class 4 septic system is required under Part 8.

The Respondent argued that under the OBC the proposed dwelling unit must have a water distribution system which in this case will be connected to a potable private water supply. This requires that a water closet conforming to CAN/CSA-B45.0 be provided in the dwelling unit. There is no evidence that shows the proposed composting toilet is certified to this standard. However, if it does, then it is the Respondent's position that a Class 4 sewage system must be installed to serve the proposed dwelling unit.

The Respondent continued that it is the County's planning policy since 1998 that any residential dwelling constructed in this area should be served by an "Ecoflo" system as they have an opinion from the Housing Development and Buildings Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding the suitability of the "Ecoflo" system for highly permeable soils. As a result, under this policy, any applicant requesting a building permit for residential development is required to install an "Ecoflo" sewage system.

The Respondent concluded that even if the proposed systems are recognized under the OBC, they have no conclusive data about the volume and the quality of the black water that would be discharged from the composting system to guide them about the design and construction requirements of a Class 3 system, nor have they any idea about quality of the greywater that will be discharged to a Class 2 system. For these reasons, they cannot approve the proposed systems.

  1. Commission Ruling

Ruling 1: It is the decision of the Building Code Commission (BCC) that a composting toilet (Class 1) and Class 2 leaching pit for a seasonal dwelling comply with Sentence and need not comply with Sentences and The conditions for installation are:

1) That the Class 2 leaching pit be at least 5.0 metres from the dwelling to avoid interactions with foundations and drains and to distance the system from the dwelling.

2) That a minimum of 30 metre setback to dug wells and a minimum of 15 metre to drilled wells be provided for the Class 2 system.

Ruling 2: It is also the decision of the BCC that the second proposal, consisting of a one pint flush toilet, a Class 2 greywater system, and a Class 3 (cesspool) system, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences and

  1. Reasons

Ruling 1:

a) A composting toilet is a permitted Class 1 system (Clause Such a system, if adequately sized, can serve the sanitary needs of a seasonal dwelling.

b) A Class 1 toilet is considered a suitable alternative for a conventional water closet in serving a seasonal dwelling.

c) A Class 2 leaching pit is a permitted system (Clause and compliments a composting toilet for a seasonal dwelling.

Ruling 2:

a) The panel had concerns regarding the setback requirements for this site. Table requires a 10 metre setback from a "drilled" well and a 15 metre setback from a dug well or other water source to a Class 2 leaching pit. In view of the requirements of for increased setbacks in soils under 10 minutes per centimetre percolation time, a Class 2 system may not be appropriate for this lot. The panel also had concerns that the 15 metre setback to a dug well is inadequate in view of the possible bacteria and chemical components of greywater.

b) The setbacks to a cesspool (Table are 30 metres to a drilled well and 60 metres to a dug well, plus additional setback required for low percolation time soils ( The panel expressed doubt about accommodating a cesspool on the lot under consideration.

Dated at Toronto this 1st day in the month of June, in the year 2000, for application number 2000-15.


Mr. Bryan Whitehead, Vice Chair


Mr. Frank Wright


Mr. Doug Robinson