By James Matthews
Minden Hills council scuttled a request for a storage sea can at the Haliburton Highlands OPP detachment.
Despite many residents having such containers on their properties in contradiction of municipal zoning bylaw, a council motion to allow the police a container was defeated.
Sea cans are simply illegal in the township, it was decided during council’s June 29 meeting.
Staff Sgt. Robert Flindall, the local OPP detachment commander, asked council to allow the police service to situate a sea can outside their station.
“The size of our detachment limits our usable space for (redacted) storage and we are currently quite full, including a pre-existing shed at the rear of our property,” Flindall wrote on a letter to township council.
He said the OPP received permission to purchase the sea can, but Flindall subsequently learned the municipality prohibits the use of such containers.
“This container would not be used for hazardous waste/dangerous goods … as we do not allow that on site,” the officer wrote.
Mayor Bob Carter said using sea cans is the solution the OPP has come up with the work around a lack of storage space at other detachments.
“This is generally what’s being done with OPP detachments across the province,” he said.
Councillor Ivan Ingram asked if council actually had a bylaw that governed the use of sea cans.
“Do we?” he said. “Do we have a bylaw?”
Trisha McKibbin, the township’s clerk, deferred to David Rogers, the chief building official.
Rogers said the zoning bylaw forbids sea can use in any zone inside township limits.
“If we allow it at the OPP station, then I’m going to go get one tomorrow and stick it in my backyard for storage,” Ingram said. “There’s hundreds of them around town which, at this point, are going to have to be grandfathered in if we ever get a bylaw in place and a staff member to inspect them.”
Ingram said the OPP put the cart before the horse if they obtained a sea can before securing permission to place it.
Carter said the local OPP simply got approval from central command to get a sea can. They haven’t actually gotten one yet.
“We’re not changing the bylaw,” Carter said. “We’re making a specific exception for them for this purpose.”
“What about the hundred other people who have them sitting around?” said Ingram.
Carter: “That’s something that—”
Ingram: “No, no, we have to deal with it now because we can’t just allow—”
“Coun. Ingram, we can’t necessarily change that bylaw right here today,” Carter said. “It is something that will be taken up by the planning committee and a proposal put forward. I know that we do have them out there, and we have to deal with them even though they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
Coun. Pam Sayne agreed many people have the containers on their properties. But, she said, this is probably the first time somebody has asked permission instead of taking it upon themselves to just go ahead and thumb their nose at the township.
“This being a request from the OPP, there might be some special reasons why a sea can is important to them in terms of security,” Sayne said.
If council were to look into a reason why a sea can is requested as opposed to another type of out-building, then that might justify approving the request, she said.
Coun. Tammy McKelvey suggested council allow a temporary exemption to permit the container.
“I think we’re making this way too complicated,” Carter said, and added that the local police have special requirements that are met with a sea can.
“While it (a sea can) meets their requirements, it doesn’t meet ours,” Ingram said. “All we’re doing … is doing something that’s not legal by our own standards, by our own policies.”
If it’s allowed temporarily to be revisited later, Ingram asked Carter when that will be. He said Carter has often deferred topics of discussion but they’re never brought up again. Those discussions are even dropped from future meeting agendas, he said.
“I’m not in favour of this whatsoever, whether it’s the OPP or the fire department,” Ingram said. “We don’t allow them.”
McKelvey suggested the OPP detachment make an application for an amendment to the zooming bylaw, site specific.
Rogers said the bylaw specifically forbids storage-use of discarded rail cars, street cars, truck bodies, and trailers with or without wheels.
“Shipping containers, although they’re not spelled out specifically in there, that is the intent of that, to eliminate them,” Rogers said.