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Callander sends shipping containers back to the drawing board

Callander is opening the bylaws to reconsider the municipality’s rules concerning temporary storage structures, particularly shipping containers.

The idea to revise the bylaw was brought to Callander’s town council meeting on July 20 by planning administrator Taylor Craig.

His report mentions that municipal staff have “received several complaints about these structures” on people’s property, mostly “because of their unsightly and industrial-like appearance.”

Under the existing rules the municipality has “little recourse to have them removed or relocated without resorting to legal means.”

Currently, Callander’s zoning bylaw regulates the use of shipping containers. They are not allowed in the urban area but are permitted in the rural area subject to setbacks and lot coverage calculations outlined in the bylaw.

Tarp sheds and other temporary structures “are not regulated at all,” Craig notes.

Under the zoning bylaw, Callander recognizes shipping containers as temporary storage units, and this “temporary” designation allows residents to install these containers without a building permit.

The problem is that many containers become permanent fixtures of one’s land, and the “temporary” wording provides the landowner a means to extend the life of their container simply by stating they plan to move it.

How long is temporary? The town’s current bylaw does not make that clear. Section 2.38 of the zoning bylaw explains that temporary use encompasses “a fixed period of time with the intent to discontinue such use upon the expiration of the time period.”

Technically, the containers “are to be treated as an accessory structure,” Craig explains, —similar to a built shed or garage—and require permits. However, the wording used to define “a fixed period of time” is so vague the original intent of the bylaw is lost.

“This creates a discrepancy that can be taken advantage of,” Craig noted.

The goal is to create new bylaws that will more effectively address the use of containers.

Municipal staff will compose a draft bylaw and present it to council at an upcoming meeting for their approval.
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