Shipping containers bylaw amendment rejected by council

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin Council has rejected a bylaw amendment concerning the controversial shipping containers issue.

Patricia MacDonald, acting reeve, told the Recorder the proposed bylaw change was voted on and defeated by council last week. “Council defeated the motion to do the bylaw. People wanting to use one of the shipping containers (which includes sea containers and storage bins) will have to apply for a zoning amendment to use them on their property, as they have in the past.”

As reported previously, while the current municipal bylaws do not reflect any mention of sea containers or portable storage bins, the purpose of the bylaw was to loosen restrictions on them. This would have allowed agricultural and rural zone property owners to avoid going through the amendment process at a personal cost of $300. If the proposed bylaw was put in place, it would have been council’s decision to either grant or reject applications for use of the storage containers.

If the bylaw had been passed, people making application for use of the containers, as well as any appeals from neighbouring property owners, would not be able to appeal a decision. Currently, and what will now remain in effect, the property owner has the right to make an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Andrew O’Reilly, chief building officer of the municipality, had been quoted in the December 22, 2011 edition of the Recorder explaining, “in regards to a zoning amendment bylaw on storage units and sea containers, this would include all lands in the municipality.” He pointed out the purpose of amending the bylaw to add portable storage units and sea containers would mean that they could only be used for storage, not human habitation. It would have added a provision the units could only be allowed on a temporary placement of one year during a construction period.

With council having rejected the proposed bylaw, “council is not looking at banning the storage containers, but allow them under permits being applied for and used,” said ms. MacDonald.

Ms. MacDonald pointed out deputations had been made at the meeting by Glenn Black, of the Safe Storage Environment and Accommodation Committee (SEAC), as well as a local contractor. The latter, “was concerned about being allowed to keep his work equipment at a work site, which will be allowed. It is when one of these storage containers is used as a permanent structure that the concerns are raised.”

As well as delegations, council read a memo from Reeve Gerry Strong (who was not present at the meeting) in regards to the proposed bylaw. “Although I am unable to attend Thursday night’s council meeting I would like to comment on the finance committee’s recommendation to give the storage container bylaw 2011-20 its three readings,” wrote Mr. Strong.

“I am opposed to the passing of this bylaw because it eliminates the right of adjoining property owners to appeal the decision of council,” wrote Mr. Strong. “The planning act was established in the early 1980s to protect the rights of all property owners. It provides appeal rights to both the applicant and affected parties. If this bylaw is passed, affected parties will lose their right of appeal. Council should not hold the right of final decision in land use planning issues.”

Mr. Strong pointed out, “the last council was reluctant to pass this bylaw and so should we. Would it not be better to table the bylaw until such time as it can be addressed in the new zoning bylaw?” (Which would be part of the Manitoulin Official Plan being developed.)

After the meeting, Mr. Black said, “council defeated the proposed bylaw amendment which I was quite pleasantly surprised took place.” He indicated he heard a complaint had been made to the municipality about a sea container being used at a residence in the municipality, and felt any in use now should have been grandfathered in, under a new bylaw. “And, under the current municipal property standards bylaws, such things as peeling paint or buildings not in good physical shape that are eyesores, can be investigated and enforced by the municipality on the property owner. There is already this bylaw in place enforcing this type of thing from taking place.”

In council’s vote on the proposed bylaw amendment, councillors voting against it were Ted Taylor, Beverly Pearson-Trainor, and Gloria Haner, while two councillors voted in favour of it, Adam McDonald and Derek Stephens.