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BCC Ruling No. 00-42-774

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 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 Ms. Heather Feikema, Environmental Engineer, IKO Industries, Brampton, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with

Ms. Brenda Campbell, Chief Building Official, City of Brampton, Ontario, to determine whether the as-installed sanitary drainage system that includes a sump pit and pumps provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 40A Hansen Road South, Brampton, Ontario.

Ms. Heather Feikema, Environmental Engineer
IKO Industries
Brampton, Ontario

Ms. Brenda Campbell
Chief Building Official
City of Brampton

Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair
Mr. Fred Barkhouse
Mr. John Guthrie

Toronto, Ontario

August 24th, 2000

August 24th, 2000


Ms. Heather Feikema
Environmental Engineer
IKO Industries
The Applicant

Mr. Steve Hystek, Project
Economy Contracting
Agent for the Applicant

Ms. Brenda Campbell
Chief Building Official
City of Brampton
The Respondent

Jerry Monaco
Plumbing Plans Examiner
City of Brampton
Designate for the Respondent


1. The Applicant

Ms. Heather Feikema, Environmental Engineer, IKO Industries, Brampton, Ontario, has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 to remedy certain alleged deficiencies regarding a drainage system serving new plumbing fixtures installed at 40A Hansen Road South, Brampton, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently made renovations to an existing building with an F2 major occupancy. The structure is described as two storeys in building height, 4,580 m2 in building area and is of combustible construction. The building is equipped with a sprinkler system.

As part of the renovation on the ground floor, the Applicant added a new hand washing sink in a newly constructed laboratory. As well, new male and female staff washrooms were installed, each with a sink and water closet. Also added, adjacent to the washrooms, is a single stall shower room. The lab sink is located approximately 37 m (120 ft) from the washroom/shower area.

The construction in dispute involves the drainage piping for the laboratory sink and five plumbing fixtures installed in the new washrooms and shower as described above. A 100 mm (4 in) sanitary drain pipe, approximately 37 m (120 ft) in length, has been installed for the hand sink. Also connected to this sanitary pipe are the fixtures in the washrooms and the shower stall. The pipe drains to a sump pit located in the area of the new washrooms. Sanitary sewage is then pumped up and across the ceiling space of the existing ground floor of the facility for a distance of approximately 15.5 m (50 ft) where it returns to ground level and feeds into an existing cleanout.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the as-installed sanitary drainage system that includes a sump pit and pumps provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code. This provision describes the conditions when pumps and tanks can be used and sets out requirements. In particular, Sentence (1) stipulates that only drainage piping that is not capable of draining by gravity may be connected into a sewage tank with pumping devices. In the case at hand, while it may be possible through an extensive retrofit to drain by gravity, all drainage piping for the subject fixtures is provided through mechanical means (i.e. a sump pit and pumps).

Specifically, the issue before the Commission is whether the as-built drainage piping that utilizes a mechanical pumping system in lieu of gravity-based drainage sufficiently complies with Sentence of the Code regarding circumstances of installation for sumps and tanks. In addressing this question, the Commission must assess whether, as an existing building, "construction difficulties" as envisaged in Article were sufficient to warrant the use of an alternative method of Code compliance.

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article Sumps or Tanks

  1. Only piping that is too low to drain into a building sewer by gravity shall be drained to sump or receiving tank.

  1. Where the sump or tank receives sanitary sewage it shall be water and air-tight and shall be vented.

  1. Equipment such as a pump or ejector than can lift the contents of the sump or tank discharge it into the sanitary building drain or sanitary building swear shall be installed.

  1. Where the equipment does not operate automatically the capacity of the sump shall be sufficient to hold at least a 24 hours accumulation of liquid.

  1. Where there is a building trap the discharge pipe from the equipment shall be connected to the sanitary building drain downstream of the trap.

  1. The discharge pipe from every sanitary sewage sump shall be equipped with a union, a check valve and a shut-off valve installed in that sequence in the direction of discharged.

  1. The discharge piping from a pump or ejector shall be sized for optimum flow velocities at pump design conditions.

5. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that it was IKO's intent to renovate and update their 50 year old building. Accordingly they set out to convert a portion of the subject building into a laboratory and install new male and female staff washroom facilities on the ground level.

Regarding the issue of building without the issuance of a permit, the Applicant argued that they had difficultly in obtaining a permit at the time due to a City strike in progress. Moreover, the office building and laboratory space were critically needed and they could not afford to hold off on the renovations indefinitely, as the City allegedly refused to inspect the rest of the plumbing.

The Applicant noted that the newly installed laboratory sink was installed 15.5 m (50 ft) from the existing sanitary connection. It was not practical and would have likely resulted in future problems if the washroom fixtures and the laboratory sink were drained by gravity, as mandated by the OBC. This is because over that considerable distance and the limited fall possible, the drainage pipe would have only been able to achieve a minimum slope. As a result, given the situation, the Applicant felt that the only practical method was to install the sump pump, as the 'regulated' slope could not be maintained otherwise. The Agent for the Applicant further added that he was aware that the construction was not to Code, but he too asserted that a proper 1% slope could not be maintained if they strictly adhered to Code provisions.

In addition, the Applicant was concerned over the impact of cutting through the existing flooring. She stated that the decision to install the sump pump was selected because the alternative involved cutting the floor through a Print Shop and Machine Shop, both of which operate on a 24 hour basis. The loss of production, workers hours and money were notable concerns in the disruption of these shops' operations.

To reinforce her position, the Applicant also indicated that IKO consulted with and sought the advice of a professional engineer who recommended the that the installation of the sump pump was in keeping with good engineering practice and existing site conditions. The engineer's opinion was that installing a new drain by gravity and "cutting existing floor within existing industrial, fully occupied and obstructed spaces, was not practical."

6. Respondent's Position

At the outset, the Respondent clarified that the City strike did not interfere in the permit process, and that the strike itself was not in progress during the time of the client's permit request. Moreover, the Respondent felt that it was the Applicant's responsibility to attain the proper permit before proceeding with construction. Yet, the renovations in question were completed prior to the issuance of a permit. The Respondent stated that if the BCC were to approve the subject completed work it would send a misleading message. In effect it would tell people that even work not done in accordance with Code, but which has been finished, will nevertheless get approved.

In addition, it was noted that Jerry Monaco, the City Plumbing Plans Examiner, went to assess the site only to discover the job had been completed. At that point he felt that he had no business to comment on the subject installations.

The Respondent then elaborated upon the City's policy regarding alternative construction approaches, which was developed to consider projects that do not completely conform and/or are deemed to face substantial challenges in terms of achieving strict conformance to Code requirements. As noted, she explained that she does not consider the regulations of the Building Code as the only construction approach, and is thus willing to consider alternatives given the proper circumstances. However, she felt strongly that the case in question was not eligible to be considered under their policy with respect to 'disruption distances.' This policy stipulates that 310 m (1000 ft) is the threshold when construction alternatives may be considered. Moreover, the policy was also not applicable because she felt it was viable to construct in accordance with Code for the disputed drainage work.

Turning to the technical issues, the Respondent stated that the dispute at hand is whether there is sufficient slope. While she acknowledged that the engineer supported the as-built drainage system including sump pit and pumps, the same engineer's report, she argued, noted that the plumbing installation was capable of being drained by gravity. Indeed, the engineer's calculations verified that sufficient fall exists for the approximately 15.5 m (50 ft) of drainage pipe required to drain the new plumbing fixtures. Gravity drainage is possible because the existing invert on the riser is approximately 47 cm (18 in) below finished floor. By reducing the thickness of the concrete floor, the required fall could be achieved, she explained.

Since the disputed drainage was possible by means of gravity, the Municipality's view was that no insurmountable construction difficulties were present. Therefore, the installation of the sewage tank could not be approved, as Article of the OBC prohibits the subject drainage piping from draining into a sanitary sewage tank.

In addition, the Respondent argued that the Applicant's claim of cutting 15.5 m (50 ft) through the shop floors as being a significant construction challenge was spurious. As she indicated, the Applicant had already cut through 37 m (120 ft) of concrete floor to connect the laboratory sink as well as the new washrooms and shower to the sump pit. Also, the Applicant went to the effort of installing a complicated drainage system that includes above ground piping running through the ceiling space of the shop areas.

Regarding the issue of potential work disruption and financial impacts that may be caused by cutting through existing flooring, the Respondent stated that their concern was focussed on the fact that the as-built drainage system not only does not comply with the OBC, but in their view was a significant deviation from the Code.

In summation, the Respondent stressed that it was her job to enforce the Building Code and not to be swayed by financial factors or by the fact that the work was completed prior to the issuance of a permit. Therefore, the City was of the opinion that the as-constructed mechanical sewage pumping system cannot be substituted for gravity drains when drainage could be achieved in conformance with OBC provisions.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as-installed sanitary drainage system that includes a sump pit and pumps provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at 40A Hansen Road South, Brampton Ontario.

8. Reasons

i. In our opinion, the installation of a gravity based drainage system in the present circumstance would meet with certain construction difficulties.

ii. The as-built system with a sump pit and pumps should perform adequately and therefore achieves sufficiency of compliance with Code requirements.

Dated at Toronto this 24th, day in the month of August in the year 2000 for application number 2000-40.


Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair


Mr. Fred Barkhouse


Mr. John Guthrie