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Taking a Home Off The Grid (Ontario Law Question)

 
Posts: 74
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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I was wondering if anyone here has done any studying of Canadian or Ontarian Law with regard to Off grid housing?

Our water utility just decided that water is now going to be 10 times more expensive and sent out letters saying that your house will be foreclosed on if you disconnect due to the building code.

Does anyone here have any knowledge of if their is any legal method to take a house offgrid (specifically with respect to Water) in Canada/Ontario or where I would look for this information?

To be clear, We lived many years offgrid legally. The claim here is that (I believe it is the Ontario building code) we are prevented from disconnecting now that we have connected.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1742
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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In Australia, disconnection of the water supply would be considered a health issue.

OK, what is the cost of the water anyway, 10 x a low figure is still a low figure, what are your alternatives.
Can you just not turn a tap on?.

Realistically catching your own water in a town can be hard, and I am an advocate for it. [ see my signature ].
It is also expensive compared with good town water.
 
Jon Wisnoski
Posts: 74
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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It is not the price per liter I worry about, as we could just use none. But our district has moved to a model where they do not charge you for use directly. They do not want to measure individual users any longer so they just do some estimation and put you in a tier and you have a flat rate. But then they recalculate at the end of the year and reevaluate your tier. We are slated to be in their lowest usage tier, but this will start at over hundred dollar a month and is expected to grow every year from now on.

So we plan on using no water, but they claim that we will still have to pay the utility any amount that they choose.
 
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Location: Ontario
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I'm not sure if this is any more research than you have done already, but section 3.7.4.1 of the OBC states:

3.7.4.1. Plumbing and drainage Systems

(1) Except as permitted in Sentence (3), each building situated on property that abuts on a street in which a public or municipal water main is located shall be provided with or have accessible to its occupants a plumbing system including a potable water supply, a sanitary drainage system and plumbing fixtures.

(2) When the installation of a sanitary drainage system is not possible because of the absence of a water supply, sanitary privies, chemical closets or other means for the disposal of human waste shall be provided.

(3) Plumbing fixtures need not be provided in a building that is not normally occupied by persons where such installations are impractical and other fixtures are available in nearby buildings when the subject building is in use.



Now, that doesn't say you have to use that water, but you are going to need a water supply and a wastewater solution, as outlined in other sections:


7.1.5.3. water Distribution Systems

(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2), every water distribution system shall be connected,

(a) to a watermain that is part of a municipal drinking water system, or

(b) to a drinking water system, if a watermain described in Clause (a) is not available.

(2) Storm sewage or greywater that is free of solids and treated to conform to Article 7.7.4.1. is permitted to be used as a water supply for,

(a) water closets,

(b) urinals,

(c) sub-surface irrigation, or

(d) the priming of traps.

(3) Rainwater that is free of solids and treated to conform to Article 7.7.4.1. is permitted to be used as a water supply for,

(a) clothes washers,

(b) laundry trays,

(c) mop sinks,

(d) bedpan washers,

(e) water closets,

(f) urinals,

(g) hose bibbs,

(h) sub-surface irrigation, or

(i) the priming of traps.

(4) Piping conveying the non-potable water described in Sentence (2) shall be installed in conformance with Section 7.7.



I'm not 100% sure if the "not available" means you have to use municipal if it is there. Basically all of section 8 relates to wastewater treatment so I won't copy paste that whole thing here. You will need a wastewater solution to have the building be permitted for occupancy, and that includes grey water.

On top of all of this, your town may have additional by-laws, so that would be a good place to look too. $100 per month for water without metering is WILD. You may not know this, but water/wastewater utilities are funded entirely by rates and fees. If they need to charge each home this amount they must really need the money for critical upkeep or operating costs. I'm sorry you are dealing with this.
 
Jon Wisnoski
Posts: 74
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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Great find, thank you.

I guess it all comes down to what "available" means.
I started out thinking that this was bad luck, but I am not sure anymore. Our neighbors still are not connected to the municipal drinking water system and or course they can get it if they have the money to pay the hookup cost. So available is apparently being interpreted as already connected to your property. And the water supply people said that the only way for us to disconnect was for them to physically cut the line off. Meaning we would be back to where we were before we paid to connect, it is "available" if we wish to pay tens of thousands to have them connect our land to the water supply. It seems to me, that unless their are more laws pertaining to this, we should be able to disconnect.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Have you asked why metering is not being used?
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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FROM; `is water charged for in canada
Water charges currently do exist in Canada (e.g., charges levied by  municipal water providers) and are generally characterized by users simply paying
a monthly utility bill that reflects water treatment and delivery costs.

In Ontario,
All properties with a water meter and a wastewater connection pay a fixed wastewater charge as well as the volumetric water charge.
This pays for maintaining the public wastewater network.

1.1 Water Pricing Over the past two to three decades, water rates in Ontario have been characterized by two general structures:
-flat rates that do not vary with consumption - For flat-rate charges, meters are not required because the water price is not related to consumption.

- a variety of volume-based charges involving meters.

An interesting read; Growing Ontario water costs
 
Jon Wisnoski
Posts: 74
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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To reiterate, our district is currently in the process of switching from metering, and we have been told that it will continually be getting more expensive from now on. So I imagine because it is cheaper, and because we are rural and everyone has wells a lot of people just do not use water, and were paying almost nothing in monthly fees. So switching into a non-metered approach allows them to charge these people more.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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So now we have a clearer picture of the situation.
Do you ever have drought where you are? Town water would be good if you do.

At all stages the authority would have to justify the cahrges, has this been challenged?
 
Jon Wisnoski
Posts: 74
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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I don't know. I imagine one of the rich farmers will sue them, and they will increase the water bills to pay for the trial.
 
Natalie Jensen
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Location: Ontario
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Jon Wisnoski wrote:Great find, thank you.

I guess it all comes down to what "available" means.
I started out thinking that this was bad luck, but I am not sure anymore. Our neighbors still are not connected to the municipal drinking water system and or course they can get it if they have the money to pay the hookup cost. So available is apparently being interpreted as already connected to your property. And the water supply people said that the only way for us to disconnect was for them to physically cut the line off. Meaning we would be back to where we were before we paid to connect, it is "available" if we wish to pay tens of thousands to have them connect our land to the water supply. It seems to me, that unless their are more laws pertaining to this, we should be able to disconnect.



I just want to make sure I am clear that in order for this to be possibly true, you would have to have an acceptable (to the Building code) source of water and way to handle wastewater. It sounds like that is the case for you as you mention that you have at one point opted to be connected to the system. This comment is more for others who may stumble on the thread.

Local government is... messy. If you have only been dealing with the water folks I would make sure you have checked in with the planning/building departments too. I say this as a water person* - the water folks aren't always aware of all the other layers of rules around their work. There are a lot of jurisdictions at play here. There is the Ontario Building Code which is a provincial law (often administered at the local level), but there are also possibly local by-laws that sit on top of that code. I was doing a little searching and I noticed that there is by-law in my area which outlines a "mandatory connection area" and these homes must now be connected to municipal supply. The planning/building department should be able to give you a useful answer because they are the people who would be making the call about whether a dwelling is suitable for occupancy.

*None of my comments relate to my professional experience which is not in the area of customer connections, I just know where to look for possible answers.  
 
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