By Chad Ingram
Published May 5 2016
Algonquin Highlands council is workingon a zoning bylaw amendment to regulate the use of shippingcontainers – such as the body of a transport truck or sea shippingcontainers – being used as storage buildings on properties in the township.
Councillors discussed the issue whichwill be subject to a public meeting during a May 5 meeting.
“Shipping containers have recentlybecome a popular alternative to constructing traditional structuresused both for storage and human habitation purposes on a permanentand temporary basis” read a report from township planner SeanO'Callaghan. “The building department has received notice ofshipping containers being present on several properties throughoutthe municipality.”
A draft bylaw prepared by O'Callaghansuggested a maximum two shipping containers for purposes of storage per property in thefollowing zones: rural (RU); highway commercial (C1); generalcommercial (C2); general industrial (M1); extractive industrial-pits(M2); extractive industrial – pits and quarries (M2A); and wastedisposal industrial (M3). Among other requirements the draft bylawstated that shipping containers must comply with the setbacks foreach zone and be completely screened from view of adjacent propertiesand roadways.
“Shipping containers are notpermitted in the shoreline residential zones and hamlet residentialzone as they are generally smaller lots limiting suitable buildinglocations increasing potential for negative impacts/conflicts withsurrounding properties” O'Callaghan's report read.
Since they qualify as structuresO'Callaghan said shipping containers would require building permitsand engineers' inspections.
Councillor Lisa Barry said shedisagreed that an engineer's assessment be required.
Reeve Carol Moffatt said thatrequirement was about safety.
Barry didn't think rules aroundshipping containers should be based on zoning but rather onaesthetics adding that shipping containers would be improvement oversome of the existing structures in the municipality.
Moffatt said aesthetics were subjectiveand that it was not the township's place to decide on a case-by-casebasis which shipping containers were acceptable and which were not.
“I personally don't think shippingcontainers should be allowed anywhere” Moffatt said adding shethought they dumbed down the aesthetics of the community.
However Moffatt said she recognizedthat for some shipping containers are a more affordable option thanbuilding traditional structures and that having them in certain zonescould be accommodated.
“We're trying to find the balancebetween what's reasonable and maintaining the character of thecommunity” she said.
However other members of council had adifferent opinion of what was reasonable.
“Most of the resorts in the area areC3 recreational commercial” said Councillor Marlene Kyle addingshe feared council could be restricting the activities of businesses.
Councillor Brian Lynch thought that aminimum property size should be the determining factor and thatshipping containers should be permitted in any zone includingshoreline residential if a property was large enough.
Kyle and Barry said they agreed.Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen was absent from Thursday's meeting.
Moffatt said she was “gobsmacked”at the direction the conversation was going.
“I think you're making a huge mistake. . . but this is the process and we'll see what the public has tosay” she said.
O'Callaghan reiterated that he hadconcerns about the containers being permitted in shorelineresidential areas.
While shipping containers will not bepermitted in shoreline residential areas council did instructO'Callaghan to add recreational commercial (C3) and rural residential(RR) to the list of zones where containers would be permitted in thedraft bylaw. For the rural residential zone there will be arequirement for a minimum lot size yet to be determined.
O'Callaghan will bring the revised bylawback to councillors at their next meeting and a public meeting willbe scheduled.