By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – After five months of discussion and tinkering, Sturgeon County moved one step closer to passing its shipping container bylaw Sept. 27, an amendment to the land use bylaw that would restrict or permit the use of shipping containers for storage purposes depending on the land designation.
After sending the bylaw back to the drawing board Sept. 13 to exempt hamlets from areas where containers would be prohibited, Sturgeon County Council voted 5-1 in favour of second reading Sept. 27. Councillor David Kluthe cast the only opposing vote. Mayor Don Rigney was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Several issues were raised during Tuesday morning’s discussion of the bylaw, including the need for the bylaw in the first place. After hearing from administration that pre-existing shipping containers would be dealt with as complaints came in, and that there were currently no complaints, Councillor Kluthe questioned the sense of the bylaw. “So if we have no complaints, why are we going through this exercise?” Kluthe asked. Councillor Karen Shaw suggested the lack of current complaints was due to knowledge the bylaw was in the works.
Council opted to give only second reading Tuesday morning, giving administration an opportunity to implement some of the recommendations raised by council during the discussion. The bylaw will now go back to the drawing board for more tweaking, namely to clarify what to do about pre-existing shipping containers and setting time limits on undeveloped lots who use containers for storage.
Councillor Tom Flynn recommended the County institute a grace period where people can come into the County offices and get a permit for existing shipping containers at no cost to the rate payer. Citing a case in his division where someone had erected a container on a vacant lot with no intent to build for three years, Deputy Mayor Ken McGillis recommended setting a limit on the practice of using shipping containers on undeveloped lots. Those revisions will form the additions to the next iteration of the proposed bylaw, which could come before council for third reading at County Council’s Oct. 11 regular meeting.
The proposed bylaw was first brought to council Apr. 12 where it was given first reading. Following a public hearing on the matter May 24, the bylaw returned to council July 12 where several changes were recommended. The matter was brought back to council Sept. 13; however, a procedural snare prevented the bylaw advancing to second reading and beyond.