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Outhouses shouldn’t be allowed near lakes, say Kings County property owners


- Ian Fairclough
- Ian Fairclough

A Kings County couple say they’re appalled that proposed changes to the municipality’s land use bylaw will allow so called “recreational cabins” to be built on any lakefront land and have outhouses instead of septic systems.

Nancy and Lorne Saul-Demers live on Black River Lake, and have written to council to object to the change.

Nancy said the existing bylaws require a septic system for dwellings on lakefront lots, which are zoned lakeshore residential, or S1 and S2. She said she can’t understand why the county would take a backward step when it comes to protecting water quality on lakes.

The only explanation they’ve received is that some people would like to put a cabin on a lake without the cost of installing a septic system. But to her the protection of the environment should take precedent.

“If you go to the expense of buying a lakefront property, there’s a responsibility that comes with that to protect the lake,” Lorne said.

She said the setback distance for the proposed bylaw was extended to 100 feet from the high-water mark earlier in the process, but that even at that distance they can be impacted by heavy surface water flow passing through them on sloping properties, or rising lake levels in storm events.

The risk is too great, she said.

The term “recreational cabin” is a new one in the updated land use bylaw, Lorne said, and defined as “a building intended for recreational overnight accommodation and is not used as a permanent residence.”

“It’s a brand new concept that was introduced in this review process,” Nancy said.

But many people with properties on lakes have homes elsewhere as their permanent residence.

That, Lorne said, could mean people spend months at the lake every year, with guests, all using the outhouse.

Right now, all structures on lakefronts are considered dwellings, and as such need a septic system. The couple is worried that there could be an overabundance of buildings deemed recreation cabins — and their outhouses — on lake properties that are on accessible roads on lakes.

Lorne said there is no issue with an outhouse for a hunting cabin in the woods, which doesn’t see the same amount of use and isn’t near lake water.

The outhouse, called a “pit privy” in the bylaw, is defined as a structure and the pit over which the structure sits, in which human waste is emitted from the pit into the soil.

Nancy said the proposed acceptability of outhouses and the risk of contamination doesn’t mesh with the proposed new municipal planning strategy’s objective of protecting sensitive natural features, including the health of lakes.

“At the same time we’re concerned about water quality, the county is proposing outhouses on lakeside lots. In what world does this make sense?” she said. “I don’t know why this is being introduced now. Outhouses haven’t been allowed ... for decades (in new construction).”

She said she wants to see the term “recreational cabin” removed from the proposed bylaw, or at least from lakeshore residential zones.

Kings County Coun. Pauline Raven said she has heard from people who are concerned about the changes.

“They’re all people who have been involved and know what they’re talking about, they’re not just griping,” she said. “I haven’t read the whole (proposed land- use bylaw yet), but the last thing that I knew was that the only place you were going to be able to do recreational cabins was remote places ... that was only served by a woods road and you get to by an ATV.”

If what the Saul-Demers are saying is accurate, she said, “I will be as mad as they are. ... It’s not going to fly with me, and I don’t think it will fly with a group of other councillors either.”

Public submissions on the proposed land-use bylaw can be sent to the county until Aug. 16.

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