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Evaluation
  Health and Safety



>> Health and Safety
>> Water Supply
>> Water Systems
>> On-Site Sewage Disposal
>> Ground Water Table Elevation and Percolation Tests
>> Community Sewer Systems
>> Natural Hazard Identification
>> Geotechnical Study
>> Flooding
>> Threat of Wildfire
>> Contaminated Sites


Evaluating for health and safety happens both within the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and through referral agencies, particularly the regional Health Authority.  Assessing potential risks and obstacles such as water supply, sewage disposal or natural hazards protects the applicant, the public and the regulatory authorities from costly mistakes.   

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Water Supply

Regardless of parcel size, assurance of an adequate supply of potable water suitable for the proposed land use is required.

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Water Systems

The Approving Officer may require the provision of water in proposed subdivisions regardless of parcel sizes.

Water systems serving two or more residences are water supply systems as defined by the Drinking Water Protection Act. They require a Construction Permit issued by a Public Health Engineer of the Regional Health Authority. They also require an Operating Permit issued by the Regional Health Authority's Drinking Water Officer.

Water systems serving five lots or more are water utilities as defined by the Water Utility Act.

Usually proof of an adequate supply of potable water is a requirement in the local government's Subdivision Servicing Bylaw.

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On-Site Sewage Disposal

The Regional Health Authority must be referred to for recommendations regarding all subdivisions in which the minimum lot size is less than two hectares. When considering subdivision proposals with on-site sewage disposal, such as septic tanks, the Medical Health Officer requires that percolation and ground water table tests be performed. The Medical Health Officer or his/her designate must be invited to these tests.

A review by the local Environmental Health Officer or Public Health Inspector may still be required for lots exceeding two hectares if the Approving Officer deems it necessary.

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Ground Water Table Elevation and Percolation Tests

Sewage Disposal may be served with individual on-site systems, a new sewage system or extension of an existing system. A soil assessment ensures that on-site disposal is feasible. The Environmental Health Officer of the applicable local office of the Regional Health Authority applies the requirements of the Local Services Act Sewage Disposal Regulations when determining if a proposed parcel can accommodate on-site sewage disposal.

The "ground water table elevation test" is an important part of these Regulations. If the tile field is in water, aerobic bacteria cannot function, and the efficiency of the septic tank system is reduced. If the water is flowing, it may carry the effluent to a highway ditch or to some other property's source of domestic water.

In areas without sewage systems, water should soak into the soil at a certain rate. The "percolation (perc) test" indicates how fast this occurs.

You may have to delay completion of these tests depending on the season.

Applicants should submit the test results to the District Transportation Office with the subdivision application. The District Development Technician will then forward the test results with a copy of the plan to the local office of the Regional Health Authority for comments and recommendation. If the test results are not submitted with the application, the review will continue but preliminary approval may not be given before the soil tests are complete.

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Community Sewer Systems

If a community sewer system operated by an Improvement District or Regional District will serve the proposed subdivision, the referring officer will refer the application to the Improvement or Regional District, stating that suitable arrangements for the installation of the sewer system have been completed.

The applicant must submit a letter to the District Transportation Office before final approval of the subdivision plan.

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Natural Hazards Identification

It is most important that natural hazards be identified on land that is about to be subdivided. Such hazards include:

  • Avalanche
  • Flooding
  • Erosion
  • Landslip
  • Wildfire
  • Rock fall
  • Debris torrent

If these are confirmed by a review, the subdivision may be refused unless the potential hazard can be mitigated.

District Development Technicians may identify natural hazard potential. When a potential risk is identified, you may be required to retain a certified professional to provide a report to the Approving Officer.

Pursuant to Section 86 of the Land Title Act, the Approving Officer may refuse to approve the subdivision plan if he or she considers that the land in question may be subject to a natural hazard. Similar provisions apply under the Strata Property Act and the Bare Land Strata
Regulations BC Reg. 75/78
.

You can learn more about natural hazard identification through the Ministry of Transportation And Infrastructure publication Natural Hazards in BC.

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Geotechnical Study

If an Initial Study Is Needed...

If there is no existing study of the area but one is required, the District Development Technician, at the direction of the Approving Officer, sends the applicant a letter asking for an initial geotechnical study.

If a Site-Specific Study Is Needed...

If a blanket study of the area has been done and shows evidence of natural hazards, the District Development Technician, at the direction of the Approving Officer, sends the applicant a letter of preliminary non-approval suggesting that a qualified Professional Engineer be hired to do a site-specific study. If the blanket study is a public document, it should be referred to in the letter.

Outcome of the Study

After receiving the letter from the District Development Technician, the applicant may engage a qualified Professional Engineer to do a geotechnical study of the site. Its goals would be to:

  • Determine if there is a hazard
  • Determine extent of any hazard
  • Identify building sites free from hazard, or where risk could be rendered acceptable
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Flooding

Local governments have flood-related bylaws and flood-plain mapping. You may contact the LG directly, or talk to your District Development Technician if you plan to subdivide near a body of water.

Pursuant to Section 86 of the Land Title Act, the Approving Officer may refuse to approve the subdivision plan if he or she considers that the land in question may be subject to a hazard of flooding.  Similar provisions are available under the Strata Property Act and the Bare Land Strata Regulations BC Reg. 75/78

In order to properly assess the potential for flooding, the Approving Officer may require the applicant to provide an engineering report certifying that the land may be used safely for the intended purposes and/or to identify possible remedial works.

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Threat of Wildfire

We recommend that the owner/applicant consult the following websites http://bcwildfire.ca/ or https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/ and in particular, the free downloadable interactive manual FireSmart: Protecting Your Community for information relating to wildfire.

Talk to your District Development Technician if you live in an area prone to wildfires.

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Contaminated Sites

On April 1, 1997 the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act (B.C. Reg. 375/96) took effect. If the subdivision involves land that has been used or is used for industrial or commercial purposes or activities, you may have to provide a site profile, a form which describes the potential hazards on the land.

Schedule 2 of the regulation sets out some examples of the types of industrial or commercial land uses to which site profile requirements apply. More information is available from Ministry of Environment Regional and Victoria offices. If the land has not been used for industrial or commercial purposes you may provide a letter to that effect, rather than a site profile. A letter template is available. See Apply

Applications involving contaminated sites may not be issued preliminary approval unless Ministry of Environment consents to the proposal.

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