Central Manitoulin okays sea container storage request

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CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Sea containers, those ubiquitous rectangular steel boxes that are used for shipping just about everything that travels by truck, rail or sea these days, have long been anathema—considered an unsightly blight—in the rural landscape, with bylaws restricting their use in many localities.

Central Manitoulin council received a zoning application requesting permission to place a storage container on a large rural property in the Campbell region of the municipality, which engendered a debate on portable storage containers generally.

Mayor Richard Stephens noted that it was “kind of hard to justify not being able to put a container on a 100-acre lot that is surrounded on all sides by trees.”

Councillor Al Tribinevicius asked if sea containers were legal to place on properties to which building official Raymond McPherson replied that they are legal, with provisions.

Under Ontario regulations, portable storage containers are considered to be structures and, as such, must meet Ontario Building Code standards.

Mayor Stephens floated the idea of building a database of the current portable storage containers placed on properties in the municipality, asking if regulation can be retroactive. Mr. MacPherson affirmed that it is possible to deal with non-compliant storage containers retroactively.

“That would be a huge task, to count where every container is,” suggested Councillor Dale Scott. “Is it illegal?”

Mr. MacPherson replied that placing a storage container on a property without informing the building official is illegal.

Mayor Stephens questioned whether the new “eye in the sky,” a tool now available to municipalities in discovering unauthorized building through satellite photography, could work.

“We could have them do that, or do it ourselves,” replied Mr. MacPherson.

Mayor Stephens suggested that the question of portable containers and the bylaw governing them might be a future topic for discussion at the property committee level.

Following the public meeting council passed a motion granting the request.