As of late there has been a movement, by some Municipalities, to forcibly implement mandatory hook-up to municipal sewer and/or municipal water systems. There is also a movement, by some rural Municipalities, to implement mandatory septic system updating/ upgrading.
There is nothing in the Municipal Act or any other Act which grants municipalities this authority, and there is nothing in the Municipal Act or any other Act to demand that private property owners (i) do/take either of these actions, or (ii) pay for this to be implemented on private property.
Under section 23 of the Municipal Act it states:
Agreements respecting private services
23. A municipality may enter into an agreement with any person to construct, maintain and operate a private road or a private water or sewage works, including fire hydrants. 2001, c. 25, s. 23.
And under Ontario Regulation 322/12 it states:
LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY BY AGREEMENT
Purpose, Sufficient Agreements and By-Laws
Local improvements, private property 36.1 In accordance with this Part, a municipality may raise the cost of undertaking works as local improvements on private property by imposing special charges on the lots of consenting property owners upon which all or part of the works are or will be located.
Therefore, if the private property owner does not consent, there is no action that can be taken and no charges or fees, etc., that can be levied to move forward with “mandatory hook-up of municipal sewer and/or water”, and there can be no “mandatory implementation to instruct private property owners to pay for upgrades of septic systems.”
The only legislative authority the Municipalities have, in the Municipal Act regarding septic systems, is to license septic tank business operators, under business licencing. Any by-law created to demand mandatory upgrades and/or hook up is beyond the legislative authority of the Municipalities.
A municipality may make a by-law regarding these community improvements, if it is on property that belongs to the municipal corporation, as a "municipal property asset,", referred to in sections 10 and 11 s.s. (2) para. 4 – "Public assets of the municipality acquired for the purpose of exercising its authority under this or any other Act."
Perhaps the Municipal Councils need to re-read, either the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing "Councilor's Guide,", or the Ontario Landowners Association Councilor's Guide, so they fully understand the restrictions on their authority and that staff's recommendations may or may not be lawful.
We elect Municipal Councils to represent us and uphold the law, not staff recommendations. Passing by-laws, because they have been told they can, is not fulfilling their obligations under their oaths. They are to know and understand the law, and all restrictions on their authority.
Elizabeth F. Marshall,
Director of Research Ontario Landowners Association