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BCC Ruling No. 99-34-690

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-34-690

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 8.2.1.3. of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99 and 278/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Melvin Dreger, President, 1088416 Ontario Inc., c/o Country Estates Retirement Home, Lindsay, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Fraser McDonald, Chief Building Official, Township of Ops, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed expansion of the Class 4 sewage system based on current measured daily design sewage flow rates to serve an enlarged nursing home provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 8.2.1.3. of the Ontario Building Code at the Country Estates Retirement Home, 512 Thunderbridge Road, Lindsay, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Melvin Dreger, President
1088416 Ontario Inc./Country Estates Retirement Home
Lindsay, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Fraser McDonald
Chief Building Official
Township of Ops

PANEL

Mr. Bryan Whitehead (Chair)
Mr. Bill Fellner
Mr. Frank Wright

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

May 27, 1999

DATE OF RULING

May 27, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Melvin Dreger, President
1088416 Ontario Inc.
Lindsay, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Fraser McDonald
Chief Building Official
Township of Ops
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Melvin Dreger, President, 1088416 Ontario Inc., Lindsay, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate and expand an existing seniors residence, as well as to enlarge the Class 4 sewage system at the Country Estates Retirement Home, 512 Thunderbridge Road, Lindsay, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to renovate an existing, 13 occupant, structure with a total finished area of 566.9 m2 currently classified as a Group C - residential (senior's boarding house) occupancy by adding an additional 223 m2 of finished area. The building when completed would have a total finished area of roughly 769.9 m2, approximately 45 fixture units, an increased occupant load of up to 32 persons, and would possibly be classified as either a Group B, Division 2 - care and treatment (nursing/rest home) occupancy, or as a Group B, Division 3 - care (convalescent/residential care facility) occupancy.

As part of the renovation and expansion of the existing facility, the Applicant is also proposing to expand his existing Class 4 sewage system to service the enlarged building. The current system consists of a 4,500 litre septic tank connected to two conventional leaching beds, the smaller of which serves four persons and is located to the north-east of the existing building. This bed is not in dispute. The larger bed, with 220 m (eight runs of 27.5 m) of distribution pipe, is situated to the north-west of the senior's boarding house.

The Applicant has conducted a study measuring the actual water consumption in the existing building and has calculated total daily design sewage flow rate at 230 litres/person/day. (This figure includes a certain safety margin - the actual measured amount was 195 L/p/d.) He has designed his proposed system based on this calculated output.

The proposed enlarged sewage system would consist of an additional 14,000 litre septic tank connected to two new pump chambers with each pump equipped with floatation alarm devices. The effluent would move through these components of the system by means of gravity disposal. From the pump chamber, however, it would be mechanically pumped into the trenches of the disposal beds. Two additional leaching bed areas would be created, one to the north-west of the existing building, and one to the south-west. The new north-west bed would contain 17 runs of 29 m for a total of 493 m of distribution pipe. The south-west bed would be comprised of 12 runs of 29 m for a total of 348 m. Including the existing leaching bed areas, the total expanded area would be 1,061 m (not including the smaller undisputed existing bed).

The new disposal beds will be constructed of imported sand set in trenches 600 mm deep spaced 2 m apart on centre. The percolation rate of the native soil is approximately 40 minutes per centimetre.

The site is described as level and covered with grass. The high groundwater table is located at approximately 600 mm below the surface.

The subject dwelling is served by a well water and cistern system.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed enlargement of the Class 4 sewage system based on current measured daily design sewage flow rates to serve an expanded nursing home provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 8.2.1.3. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision sets out the prescribed daily sewage system design flow rates for various building occupancies. For Group C - residential occupancies, including boarding houses - the building's current use, the daily design flow rate is 240 L/p/d. However, for both Group B, Division 2 - care and treatment occupancies which includes homes for the aged and nursing homes, and Group B, Division 3 - care occupancies which encompasses convalescent homes and residential care facilities, the daily flow rate is 450 L/p/d. Determining the type of occupancy is normally a crucial first step in designing the required sewage system for any building. The Applicant has, nonetheless, designed his system based on the actual measured daily sewage flow.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 8.2.1.3. Sewage System Design Flows

(1) For residential occupancies, the total daily design sanitary sewage flow shall be at least the value in Column 2 as determined from Table 8.2.1.3.A.

(2) For all other occupancies, the total daily design sanitary sewage flow shall be at least the value in column 2 as determined from Table 8.2.1.3.B.(See Appendix A.)

(3) Where a building contains more than one establishment, the total daily design sanitary sewage flow shall be the sum of the total daily design sanitary sewage flow for each establishment.

(4) Where an occupancy is not listed in Table 8.2.1.3.B., the highest of metered flow data from at least 6 similar establishments shall be acceptable for determining total daily design sanitary sewage flow.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that their proposed use does not neatly fit within existing classifications in the OBC. He argued that the proposed structure will function much like the current building, which is a 13 person residential boarding house occupancy, only on a larger scale. In his view, the B2 and B3 occupancies imply that a certain degree of care and treatment will be offered to inhabitants. However, in retirement homes generally and in his operation in particular, the Applicant indicated that the usage is more appropriately described as residential in nature with meals and laundry services provided. This, he argued, is more in keeping with other Group C uses such as hotels, boarding schools and boarding houses.

The Applicant also noted that it was not feasible for him to determine the daily design sewage flow as per Sentence 8.2.1.3.(4) of the OBC, which allows a calculation based on the highest metered flow taken from three similar establishments since historic information from other sources was lacking.

Regarding the prescribed 450 litres per day as set out in the B2 and B3 classifications, the Applicant indicated that he thought it was onerous and does not reflect the type of usage for retirement homes. He argued that even though the occupant load only increases by two to two and a half times, by virtue of the fact that the building is being reclassified from residential to B2 or B3 the required size of the proposed bed increases by six or seven times the size of the existing bed.

The Applicant argued that by basing the design of the system on the actual flow rates a very rationale and appropriately sized sewage system gets built. The measurements show the actual water intake which provides an accurate indicator of the sewage output. This measurement is then increased by five to ten litres to take into consideration food and bottles/tins of liquids consumed by residents that were purchased off-site. He noted that the flow measurement device is hard connected to the plumbing system. As a result, it can provide close, long term monitoring of water intake and the resultant effluent output. The Applicant offered to make these monitoring results available to the local authorities.

Lastly, the Applicant stated that the figure used to calculate the size of the leaching bed already included a safety margin of roughly 30 L/p/d. This cushion would provide room for increased water use by the future residents, or it may allow for more residents, up to 32, to occupy the expanded building and still be within the capacity of the proposed sewage system. He reiterated that even though the building may be expanding, the way the current and future occupants use it will remain the same, including the amount of effluent created. That amount, as it does now, will fall well within the daily design sewage flow for boarding houses.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed expanded senior's residence should be properly classified as a B2 occupancy. As he noted, because some of the residents would require assistance to exit the building in the event of an emergency the proposed occupancy should be seen as a facility providing a degree of care. He argued that it cannot be viewed as a large boarding house. From this classification, the relevant Code provisions are clear. The daily design sewage flow rate is 450 L/p/d and the proposed enlargement of the sewage system must be sufficient to adequately handle this additional capacity.

The Respondent also indicated that, in his view, the Code did not give him the authority to accept a sewage system designed on the basis of a measurement of current output.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the total daily design sanitary sewage flow for the proposed expanded retirement home, as calculated by Table 8.2.1.3.B, is 14,400 litres per day.

Under Clause (F) of Article 1.1.3.2. (as amended by Regulation 278-99), this proposed system fails the definition of a sewage system. Accordingly, the approval of the system design is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment.

Dated at Toronto this 27th day in the month of May in the year 1999 for application number 1999-25

Mr. Bryan Whitehead, Chair

Mr. Bill Fellner

Mr. Frank Wright