By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – After passing first reading and going to a public hearing, a new bylaw to curb and control the use of shipping containers on County properties stalled heading into second and third reading Tuesday morning.
The proposed bylaw seeks to define a shipping container as any container originally used to transport goods but now used as a structure for storage, and looks to prohibit such containers from County Residential 2, Country Residential Estate, Hamlet Residential and those properties that are classed Country Residential 1 parcels but are less than 1 hectare. Use of shipping containers would be regarded as discretionary on CR-1 parcels 1 hectare or larger. Where allowed, residents would be permitted to have only one container which must either be obscured from the view of neighbouring properties or painted to match the main dwelling on the property.
Administration returned to County Council Tuesday morning with details from the May 24 public hearing in the hopes of obtaining second and third reading. However, after some discussion on changing the one hectare requirement to a one acre requirement and hearing the views of neighbouring municipalities who are concerned the new bylaw could allow too many shipping containers on properties in the intermunicipal fringe areas, council voted 6-1 in favour of deferring the matter to the next meeting. The sole opposing vote was cast by Councillor David Kluthe who continued his opposition to the bylaw entirely.
During first reading, the first term councillor said he believed the bylaw was a waste of staff time and resources and little more than an attempt to extract more fees from County residents. It was a view Kluthe brought forward again Tuesday morning.
“I think we’re wasting time on this whole thing,” Kluthe said. “Leave them alone. If people want shipping containers on their land, let them. It’s their land.”
Although deferred until the Aug. 23 meeting or later, Sturgeon County Council did hear again the views put forth during the May 24 public hearing. Most notable was the view expressed by the City of St. Albert that while it was not opposed to the use of shipping containers on County properties, they believed it would affect lands that fall within the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) boundary identified as proposed Urban Expansion Area. Councillor Ken McGillis pointed out that Sturgeon County was no longer part of the IDP and the decade-old document no longer applied to the county.
Public comments gathered at the hearing largely dealt with shipping containers not being in front yards and not being eyesores.