One of two sewers bylaw changes that are expected to trickle down to building owners and managers is on tap for the New Year.
Toronto’s public works and infrastructure committee recently voted to adopt a proposed environmental code of practice for food service establishments. If it clears a final vote at City Council on Dec. 9, owners and operators of food service establishments will have to comply fully with the code starting Jan. 1, 2016.
The code applies to any commercial, institutional and industrial facilities where food is cooked, prepared or processed, such as a ground-floor coffee shop in an office tower or a university cafeteria. Its provisions are aimed at preventing fats, oils and greases (also known as FOGs) from entering sewers, where FOGs can cause blockages and back-ups when they cool and harden. Its provisions include specifications for the installation and maintenance of grease traps as well as kitchen best practices.
Joanne Di Caro, manager, Environmental Monitoring & Protection, Toronto Water, noted via email that the Ontario Building Code has required grease traps for more than 20 years and also refers to CSA Standard B481.4 for the maintenance of grease traps.
“Toronto’s code of practice is aligning the sewers bylaw with the current Ontario Building Code in regards to maintenance and going one step further by mandating external methods to prevent grease spills to the storm sewers,” said Di Caro.
The sewers bylaw empowers Toronto Water to inspect properties for compliance and order corrective measures. Reasons for a food service establishment inspection can include a blocked sewer, a public complaint or a referral from Toronto Public Health based on a DineSafe inspection.
Between 2009 and 2013, Toronto Public Health referred nearly 5,000 cases of a facility lacking or improperly maintaining a grease trap to Toronto Water’s Environmental Monitoring & Protection bylaw officers. Subsequent enforcement led to the issuing of 2,000 notices of violation.
The sewers bylaw also allows the City to charge back premises that damage municipal sewers for the cost of repairs. A conviction under the sewers bylaw carries a fine of up to $75,000 for an individual and up to $100,000 for a corporation.
“Property owners are responsible for wastewater discharging from their property, including wastewater generated by a tenant. The tenant is responsible for operating and maintaining the grease interceptor,” said Di Caro. “Depending on the case, the tenant could be solely charged or both the tenant and property owner could face enforcement.”
Toronto Water will be looking to building owners and managers as key allies in spreading awareness of new and existing requirements as it prepares to roll out the environmental code of practice for food service establishments. In its report to the public works and infrastructure committee, the city department indicated plans to provide training sessions to BOMA Toronto members.
Toronto Water has asked for more time to study another sewers bylaw change that could trickle down to building owners and managers. City staff intends to continue consultations on a proposed environmental code of practice for mobile washing operations such as graffiti removal and parking garage cleaning and report back in 2017.
Michelle Ervin is the editor of Canadian Facility Management & Design.