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Saanich to look into onsite stormwater disposal for unserviced lots

Garden suite requirement prompts investigation; will include all residential additions
Saanich is investigating the possibility of allowing onsite stormwater disposal systems for residential lots not connected to municipal services. (Fred Haynes/Twitter)

A plan to investigate a regulatory framework to allow onsite stormwater disposal options for garden suites built on unserviced residential lots in Saanich has been expanded.

No stormwater service exists at the street for about 2,000 Saanich homes inside the municipality’s urban containment boundary, staff told council’s committee of the whole Monday (July 11). Given the existing garden suite policy requires a new building to be hooked up to municipal services, staff and council previously identified this as a potential barrier due to the high cost of connection.

Having heard in the meantime from unconnected homeowners considering other types of additions, such as those looking to accommodate mobility or elder care needs, councillors broadened their investigative request of staff.

With an eye to the future wording of a bylaw amendment, the committee approved a revised motion asking staff to develop service requirements and criteria that would allow onsite stormwater disposal for any constructed or renovated structure on an unserviced single-family home lot (RS zone) that is not part of any future subdivision or rezoning application.

In putting forward the motion, Mayor Fred Haynes reminded councillors that residential addition project applications trigger the district’s requirement to connect to services, thus putting a further burden on homeowners who might already be facing significant financial costs. One such homeowner, he said, indicated the cost of connecting to the nearest stormwater pipe would be “north of $250,000.”

Coun. Judy Brownoff asked staff about liability issues which may arise in the case of an overflow of an onsite system, and whether maintenance or inspection of such systems could be built into future regulations. Noting that such issues can present a challenge for the district, director of engineering Harley Machielse said it may be included in a risk analysis to be done as part of the research.

Coun. Zac de Vries asked whether staff planned to look at the benefits and risks as they relate to climate change. Machielse said the work would be done using a climate change lens and that best practises from other jurisdictions would be sought, although he suspected Saanich may be the first in the area to consider such a change.

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau asked how such a policy might affect development of the district’s long-term integrated stormwater management plan and was told it would form part of the front-end work being done on that file.

For more on Saanich’s garden suite program, visit and search for garden suites.

RELATED STORY: Garden suites in Saanich achieving housing option goals, mayor says


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