Shipping container ban ‘asinine’: Quadra residents

A proposal to ban shipping containers on Quadra Island has been shipped out following a backlash from residents claiming the move to be “asinine,” “ludicrous” and “offensive.”

The Strathcona Regional District  (SRD) received several letters, petitions and emails from Quadra Islanders opposing the regulations and at a recent public hearing heard from more than 25 people – none of whom spoke in favour of the proposed crackdown.

Most defended the use of shipping containers as affordable housing alternatives and storage options, as many admitted to using storage containers as an affordable dry storage option.

Tania McMartin of Quadra said other communities are actively allowing the use of shipping containers to improve their cities.

“Progressive cities are permitting homes and storage to be built from these materials and the fact that a ban on Quadra Island is being considered is ludicrous,” McMartin wrote in an email to the regional district.

“In an area where affordable housing is at an extreme shortage, banning shipping containers is asinine, even Campbell River uses a shipping container for a temporary homeless shelter.”

Quadra Islander Mike Gall said he didn’t agree with government controlling what people put on their own properties, within reason.

“I find it quite offensive that the SRD would even consider placing a complete ban on them,” Gall said. “I am not a fan of unnecessary governance imposing rules on what I can do on my own property unless it endangers or affects the health and well-being of my family and neighbours.”

At the Nov. 26 regional district board meeting, directors considered all of the feedback and decided to scrap the plan that, if approved, would have prohibited the use of shipping containers in all zones other than industrial sites.

Quadra Islanders Gerald and Janice Ammundsen questioned the reasoning behind the proposal.

“Quadra is not a municipality. We don’t want to be one, look like one, compare ourselves to one, or to adopt any regulations or restrictions of ‘form and character controls’ just because some other place has,” they wrote to the regional district. “We believe that because the residents of Quadra and area were not included at all in this discussion, and were very nearly blindsided by the surreptitious manner in which this regulation was instigated, developed expedited and burst upon us, this bylaw will be recognized as a gateway regulation designed to impose external aesthetic form and character controls on the entire community at the cost of individual freedom of choice.”

At the November board meeting, Campbell River Director Larry Samson also questioned how the proposed bylaw came about.

Quadra Island Director Jim Abram said he had received verbal complaints about the visual effects of shipping containers located on some Quadra properties and was trying to come up with a solution.

“It was me who brought it forward because of complaints from Quadra Islanders so it was passed through to staff, to the board, to develop something but it’s not acceptable to the public,” Abram said.

Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield jokingly told Abram, “you got beat up so you chickened out.”

Abram replied that killing the proposal was the obvious route to take.

“This was very clear … that they are not in favour of moving ahead with this bylaw and as director for the area I would support that direction they gave,” Abram said.