Council heads ‘back to school’ on container issue

Campbell River city council is backtracking and promises to consult more with local businesses

Shipping containers are here to stay – for now.

Council held off on making a decision Tuesday night on a proposed bylaw that would ban the long-term use of shipping containers on commercial and residential properties.

On July 23, Coun. Ron Kerr told a packed public hearing that he felt the bylaw was crafted by city staff without consulting business owners, many of whom use the containers on their property for storage.

Kerr proposed at Tuesday’s council meeting, that council refer the bylaw to the city’s two public commissions and invite the business community to attend to get their input. Kerr’s motion was unanimously passed by council.

“I believe we need more education on this issue, more community input,” Kerr said. “The reason I’m recommending it be put forward to both committees is it affects the whole community.”

Coun. Claire Moglove agreed.

“With an issue like this that is somewhat divisive in the community, it would be very wise to get the business community involved,” she said.

The proposed bylaw, which would restrict shipping containers to industrial zoned properties only, has been controversial since it was first unveiled by city staff in response to complaints about the aesthetics of the containers.

At a public hearing, 17 people spoke against the bylaw and one spoke in favour.

Several business owners said they use the containers because it’s cheaper and faster than building a storage shed.

Kermit Dahl, owner of Associated Tire in Campbellton, has his container hidden behind his shop on Highway 19A, out of view of the street and uses it store customers’ tires because space is tight.

Steve Daigle of Daigle Welding and Marine uses sea cans to store dangerous goods, including flammable materials that he’s not legally permitted to store inside his shop.

Coun. Andy Adams recommended Tuesday that the city engage the business community through a series of meeting or open houses to try to find a solution. That was also approved by council.

Adams said that while the proposed bylaw may not be popular with everybody, it was a solution to a problem city staff were facing.

“I want to acknowledge that staff aren’t just making things up,” he said. “They’re responding to complaints they’ve received and trying to proactively come up with a solution.”

The proposed bylaw will go before the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission as well as the Advisory Planning and Environment Commission.

Each commission is made up of nine members of the public and three councillors.