Evaluation




>> 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.   

Water Supply

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

Water may be supplied from:
  • individual surface sources
  • individual wells on site
  • new water system
  • extension of an existing water system

If there is no subdivision bylaw regulating proof of water supply, the Approving Officer may require proof of 2500 litres per day per dwelling unit, as well as a statement from a laboratory regarding the water's quality.

If there is a subdivision bylaw regulating proof of water supply, the proposed subdivision must comply with it. In general, the local government determines whether the proof of water supply requirements has been met. (See "Water Systems")  The local government may also specify that ‘fire flows’ be provided in water supply systems.

For further information on Water Supply requirements, see the Drinking Water Protection Act and Regulation BC Reg, 200/2003 [effective November 1, 2005]and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.  You may also wish to contact local government and the local Health Authority for their guidelines on potable water

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.

Where such systems are involved, the applicant must submit the following to the District Transportation Office before final approval of the subdivision plan:

  • A letter from the Ministry of Environment, Utility Regulation Section, Water Management Branch stating that the water system has been installed to acceptable standards and confirmation that ‘as built’ drawings have been approved by the Comptroller of Water
  • An amendment to the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) is required if an extension to an existing water system is proposed to be constructed. Sometimes the CPCN covers a larger area than is presently served so an amendment is not required. For new community water systems, a new Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is required

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

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.

The Approving Officer may not require on-site sewage disposal systems to be constructed prior to plan approval. However, a Discharge Permit from the Environmental Management Section of the Ministry of Environment is required if either of the following is true:

  • The anticipated sewage discharge exceeds 25,000 litres per day
  • The intended land use is not “domestic”

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.

Section 1 of the Sewage Disposal Regulations Site Investigation Schedule states that subsurface ground conditions in the area of the absorption field should be determined by doing the following:

  • Digging or boring a representative number of holes to a minimum depth as required by Environmental Health Officer
  • Reporting the conditions found
  • Leaving the excavated material for inspection
  • Covering the test holes

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.

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.

A private company may operate a community sewer system. In this case, a permit from the Environmental Management Section of the Ministry of Environment is required. Before final approval of the subdivision plan, the developer must install the sewer system and provide a certificate from a Professional Engineer stating that the system is designed and constructed to an acceptable standard pursuant to B.C. Regulation 129/99, Environmental Management Act Municipal Sewage Regulation.

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.

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

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.

If it is deemed necessary to mitigate the hazard through the construction of a dike(s), the applicant will be required to comply with the provisions of the Dike Maintenance Act and the following:

  • Hire a suitably qualified consulting professional engineer to design the works to meet provincial standards and to prepare an Operations and Maintenance Manual.
  • Obtain agreement from the local government to become the Diking Authority and assume ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the dike.
  • Provide adequate land, or statutory rights of way, to the local government to allow legal access for personel and equipment to inspect and maintain the dike
  • Prior to construction, obtain written authorization to proceed with the construction from the Inspector of Dikes, Ministry of Natural Resource Operations
For more information on the administration of the Dike Maintenance Act contact your local Deputy Inspector of Dikes.

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.

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.

This guide is a living document; it is subject to change without notice. Please check the Rural Subdivisions Website (http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/DA/Subdivision_Home.asp) to make sure you version is sufficiently current.