/Lights on for shipping containers 

Lights on for shipping containers 

By Chad Ingram

Published Sept. 1 2016

Shipping containers used as storagebuildings in Algonquin Highlands will be allowed to be outfitted withelectricity.

Algonquin Highlands councillors had thelatest in a series of conversations about the creation of thetownship's shipping container bylaw during a Sept. 1 meeting.

Council began work on a bylaw earlierthis year after the township’s building department received noticeof multiple instances of shipping containers being used as storagebuildings.

More than a dozen residents attended an Aug. 20 public meeting atthe Dorset Recreation Centre on the creation of the bylaw with somebusiness owners expressing concern about regulating the bins that anumber of them already use as storage buildings.

The draft bylaw would allow shipping containers as well as thebodies of tractor trailers or straight truck boxes to be used asstorage buildings in the following zones: rural (RU) highwaycommercial (C1) general commercial (C2) recreational commercial(R3) general industrial (M1) extractive industrial – pits (M2)extractive industrial – pits and quarries (M2A) and waste disposalindustrial (M3).

The bylaw would limit the number of containers per property totwo except in cases of waste disposal areas and commercialself-storage facilities. The draft bylaw had also stipulated thatshipping containers not to be outfitted with electricity howeverCouncillor Brian Lynch took issue with that suggesting residentsshould be able to run power to the structures. Lynch said anyelectrical work would have to be done within code so didn't see whythe township would be prohibitive.

Reeve Carol Moffatt said that regulation had been included at thesuggestion of fire chief Mike Cavanagh and Cavanagh told councillorsit was about reducing ignition sources in storage areas.

“So long as it was done under a permit and installed correctlywe probably wouldn't have an issue with it” he said.

While the idea made Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen uncomfortable itwas supported by councillors Lisa Barry and Marlene Kyle giving itbacking from the majority of council.

At the Aug. 20 public meeting it was suggested that shippingcontainers – engineered to be stacked and able to withholdthousands upon thousands of pounds of pressure – should not begrouped with truck boxes and tractor trailer bodies.

“I don't think shipping containers and truck bodies are the samething whatsoever” Moffatt said.

Councillors had a lengthy and circular conversation aboutdifferentiating between shipping containers and truck bodies in thebylaw but ultimately decided that was getting overly complicated.

Containers larger than 10 square metres will also requireengineering reports a costly aspect that some residents at thepublic meeting said was unnecessary because of the structuralintegrity of the containers.

Moffatt said the township's concern was ultimately safety.

“A lot of people are saying . . . rightly . . . that shippingcontainers are a poor man garage” she said. “Our job is to findthe best course of action overall for the entire township.”

The reeve admitted that some of the requirements in the bylawcould end up being costly.

“By the time you've done everything you might as well havebuilt a shed and that's the conundrum” Moffatt said.

Barry wondered why the township couldn't adopt an engineeringstandard that containers had to adhere to rather than makingindividual property owners pay for engineering work.

“We could not possibly assume that responsibility or theliability attached to that responsibility” Moffatt said.

Chief administrative officer Angie Bird said that shippingcontainers are not addressed in the Ontario Building Code and untilsuch time they are the township needs to ensure some kind ofstructural standard is being met.

A revised version of the draft bylaw will come back to the counciltable.