Safe storage environment and accommodation committee formed

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MINDEMOYA—A newly formed Safe Storage Environment and Accommodation (SSEA) non-profit committee has been formed in Central Manitoulin, and will be making a presentation at a public meeting being held in Central Manitoulin later this month (pertaining to a proposed zoning bylaw amendment in regards to portable storage units).

Meanwhile the chief building officer for the municipality, Andrew O’Reilly, points out that currently there is a ban on portable storage units (including sea containers) in the municipality and “the bottom line is what the municipality is looking to do is make it easier to use these bins, not make it more difficult, while allowing it to have more control on where they are located and their use.”

“Our group’s mission is to support reasonable and sustainable use of sea containers and similar structures,” says Glenn Black, a spokesman for SSEA. “Once these sea bins are no longer seaworthy, they can be melted down to make new steel, or for other reusable measures that are better for the environment than recycling them. The alternative would be cutting trees, or steel for new buildings for storage, which is not as good for the environment.”

“We have a dire shortage of affordable housing on Manitoulin and Canada, and numerous countries in the world are taking these reused sea containers and by linking several together, make them into affordable housing units,” said Mr. Black. “They are fire proof, being steel, and provide security, and are less than half the cost of a new one. To build one using such materials as plywood would cost a whole lot more. It is secure, and because of it when farmers who want to protect their crops and seeds from rodents or other predators, these type of structures would provide this security.”

“We’re for responsible use of the sea containers against irresponsible use,” said Mr. Black, noting that some people might be worried about old sea containers becoming an eyesore, especially in residential areas. He pointed out in Central Manitoulin, as is the case in most municipalities, there is a bylaw setting minimum acceptable property standards, such as banning dirty windows, faded or peeling paint, uncut grass and similar problems. “We agree with this and feel the property standards bylaw should be applied to responsible use of sea containers.”

“Definitely we will be at the public meeting, and I have been asked to be the committee spokesperson and make a presentation to council,” said Mr. Black. “We haven’t decided if we are going to take our concerns to the MMA or individual municipal councils, but we hope to take this Island-wide, Ontario and Canada-wide.”

“We are quite concerned that there are numerous sea containers being used in Central Manitoulin and are concerned the new bylaw could create a two tier system, for example those with them already could be adopted in and those people who don’t have them would not have the opportunity to set them up and see the benefits of them, including the environmental benefits they can provide,” said Mr. Black.

Mr. O’Reilly explained, the reason for the council looking at the zoning amendment again is because, “previously it fell through due to time constraints of council enacting a bylaw. The old council had left it to the new council to deal with, and needing time to review the proposed amendment, it didn’t meet time constraints and basically we are now restarting the process.”

“Right now under our bylaws portable storage units are not allowed anywhere in the municipality,” said Mr. O’Reilly. “Council is trying to come up with something that would allow them in certain situations, such as where they are located, and make it an easier process to apply for their use by individual property owners.” He pointed out the portable storage units, “are better than the blow away-type sheds, and they are good in certain locations, but not necessarily in front lawns where they can possibly become an eyesore. But, for instance, if someone is building a house on their property, by allowing them to use a portable storage unit for a year to store their tools and items it would be good for everyone, as long as they are in a good location and doesn’t detract from a neighbouring property.”

“For example, a steel box unit by near the fence to a neighbours property might not work, but it might if it is located by a garage,” said Mr. O’Reilly. “Basically what council is trying to do is to have some control on these units but relieve property owners having to go through zoning amendments to use these type of structures.”

Mr. Black pointed out, “There are literally thousands, no millions, of these sea containers being used in North America. If we don’t do something with them what do leave them in ports to decay?”

He added he has seen where for instance, “In Germany, there are entire apartment buildings being put up using these type of containers in a week. They are predesigned and engineered and put together like Lego blocks and look great and are used for dormitories at universities. There is lack of affordable, social housing in Central Manitoulin and just about everywhere else on Manitoulin, Ontario and Canada. We have a question—maybe (using the sea containers to provide for this) would be a solution, maybe not.”