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For major employers in Toronto, the most important incentive to comply with the sewer bylaw is not the risk of prosecution, it’s the risk of losing their preferential Block 2 Industrial Rate for water and sewage service.  Block 2 can save large companies tens of thousands of dollars or more every year, a significant incentive for keeping their facilities in the City of Toronto. However, it can be challenging to understand when and under what circumstances the Block 2 rate will be taken away. Municipal Code 849 (the one I think is the current copy) states:

(2) In the event of a customer’s non-compliance with the Sewers By-law as set out in this section, the customer will cease to be eligible to receive the Block 2 Rate effective as of either of the following effective dates, as may be applicable:

(a) The date of the issuance of the written notice of violation under the Sewers By-law; or

(b) The required date for the submission and delivery to the City of a document set under the Sewers By-law which the customer failed to satisfy.

(3) Provided that the customer has rectified the non-compliance as set out in this section, to the satisfaction of the General Manager, Toronto Water, and the customer is then in compliance with the Sewers By-law, in all respects, and is otherwise eligible under this section, the customer may reapply to receive the Block 2 Rate which, upon approval, shall be effective from the date the General Manager, Toronto Water, is satisfied that the customer has met all eligibility requirements.

Fortunately for many industries, Toronto Water has interpreted clause (3) so that the Block 2 Rate can be restored as of the date on which the 1st compliant sample was taken, no matter how long it takes the City to analyze and process the paperwork. This wisely prevents the City from penalizing industry for municipal backlogs. But it also sometimes means that the next compliant sample has already been taken before the Notice of Violation has even been issued. However, the City may still issue a Notice of Violation for an alleged exceedence in a single grab sample that is never duplicated, despite the ample literature on the very limited reliance that should be placed on single samples. Because of the “3 strikes and you’re out” rule in the bylaw, this has the potential to work significant unfairness.

Senior city staff are discussing possible amendments to the bylaw with industry representatives.

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