Provincially-mandated Private Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program

On Jan. 1, 2011, the Ontario Building Code was amended to establish and govern mandatory sewage system maintenance inspection programs in certain areas of Ontario.  The Building Code amendments help protect our drinking water and the environment and support the implementation of the Clean Water Act and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.


As a result of these amendments, an Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program has been implemented within certain geographic areas of the City of Vaughan. The main purpose of the program is to protect the quality of our drinking water and environment by identifying malfunctioning onsite sewage systems that may be contributing to the contamination of source water in areas of Vaughan.


Which areas of Vaughan does the program apply?


Properties located in areas considered to be vulnerable to the York Region Source Water Protection Plan are to be included as part of the inspection program. If you receive notification, the City has identified that your property is in the regulated area and your sewage system is subject to the Provincially-mandated sewage inspection. The sewage system will be subject to re-inspection under the program every five years, as set out in the Ontario Building Code.


Authority of Inspections


Sewage system maintenance inspections are generally intended to determine whether a sewage system is in compliance with the operation and maintenance requirements outlined in Section 8.9 of Division B of the Ontario Building Code.


Affected property owners will be notified by mail that they are required to perform a mandatory sewage system maintenance inspection. Under the program, property owners are given the option to have the inspection performed by a qualified person, or to pay the City's current re-inspection fee of $750. The City does not charge a fee for acceptance and review of third party re-inspection reports.


Property owners can retain the services of a private certified inspection service (licenced sewage system contractor) to provide an inspection certificate with the condition of the sewage system (referred to as a "third party certificate"). When this is done, the following process must be followed:


  1. The qualified consultant, architect or engineer to conduct an inspection and complete the City of Vaughan Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Report (PDF).
  2. The qualified consultant, architect or engineer to complete the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved Mandatory Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program (PDF).
  3. The completed inspection report and certificate to be submitted to the Building Standards department for review and filing.


A City inspector will visit identified properties to perform visual inspections of the onsite sewage systems if the property owner has chosen not to retain a qualified third party to perform the re-inspection or does not inform the City within the time noted in the letter. The program is effective immediately, so an inspection may occur at any time during regular business hours. Please contact the Building Standards Department if you wish to schedule an inspection, however, depending on timing and availability, an inspector may inspect even if you have not scheduled an appointment.


The Inspector may require information from about the last septic tank pump-out or other maintenance inspections if you have a tertiary treatment system. During the inspection, and where necessary, the following information will be recorded by the inspector for City records:

  1. Any location of structures, buildings, wells, vegetation and any open water related to the septic tank and leaching bed
  2. Any signs of malfunction or failure of the sewage system
  3. Any signs of risk of malfunction or failure of the sewage system


If the inspector finds a sewage system malfunction or failure, he/she may issue an "order" to the property owner outlining the next steps that need to be taken. Property owners may be required to obtain a building permit and carry out work to correct deficiencies or unsafe conditions. All permit fees and installation expenses will be the responsibility of the property owner.


The Inspector will provide a written report on the results of the inspection, update the property records and mark your records for your sewage system to be re-inspected within five years of a passed inspection -- this is mandated by the Province. 


New Onsite Sewage Systems


If an onsite sewage system was installed after Jan. 1, 2011, and is located within the identified area, property owners will need to have an inspection five years from the installation date, and every five years thereafter.


What if the Consultant Finds a Problem?


The qualified consultant will note the concern on the City of Vaughan Standard Re-inspection Report (PDF) and submit it to the Building Standards department for review. City staff will follow up with the property owner about what needs to be done to bring the system into compliance.