Storage containers: What’s the problem?

Several Madawaska Valley residents voiced their concerns in no uncertain terms about the proposed Township By-Law to restrict storage containers in the municipality at the Public Meeting held on April 23rd. A number of ratepayers had put their objections in writing or visited MV Manager of Planning and Development, Luke Desjardins, in advance. Above: MV ratepayers Eve-Marie Chamot (left) and Brian Moore present their views to members of MV Council. Photo YouTube/Madawaska Valley

After a presentation and report by Desjardins, members of the public had the opportunity to speak. First up was Brian Moore who said there was confusion about storage containers and it was unclear whether there was an applicable By-Law in place. He made two points:

  • MV’s current compliance situation. Having researched the Township records, Moore said he found a report listing four illegal containers and 17 compliance issues re containers in recent years. From this, he said, it appears that MV regulates a storage container as if it was a trailer on wheels. Moore said MV should cease compliance action and not move against any property owner because the present By-Law is unclear. Doing this, he said, “would be fair, reasonable, honourable. Would recognize that property owners should not pay for uncertainty.”
  • Moore also said that the proposed “Complete ban is a ‘blunt instrument.’” He expressed his belief that there are acceptable uses for these containers on residential properties.

Moore said he was most upset by the short shrift the topic was given by the municipality, and he hoped this was not the last opportunity for public comments.

The second speaker was Barry’s Bay resident, Eve-Marie Chamot. Click HERE for her letter to the editor published by The Current. Chamot spoke at some length saying that, in her view, the municipality has no right to regulate “moveble property” such as shipping containers. She said her research of the Planning Act indicated MV also does not have the right to make a definition. She explained that in her view a definition is absurd anyway, as it could even extend to cardboard boxes. She took issue with the form of notice given by the municipality which Desjardin later denied, making reference to the Planning Act. Chamot said she believed that shipping containers could be converted to accommodation or used for a variety of commercial purposes, so MV should not use a zoning by-law to override such uses, and that such a by-law could inhibit potential new businesses in the area. Chamot ended by saying she thought the Township had an obsession with storage containers; she said that most municipalities (including even Toronto) do not make by-laws about them or pay them any attention whatsoever.

The final speaker, Jennifer Segal, expressed her views succinctly: “What is the problem with them? Most places here in and out of town have big properties. Anyway I don’t see the problem with that. Don’t know where this came from. What’s the reason?” When Councillor Shelley Maika responded that the present Zoning By-law dates back to 2006, Segal responded, “Updating – fair enough – but you’re also restricting.”

Letters from residents attached to the Public Meeting Agenda included one from Janet and Donald Dunn who sought “consideration to amend the By-law regarding sea containers for storage on lakefront property. We are asking consideration be given to the size of property that could accommodate the unit, a reasonable set back from the shoreline, and buffers put in place . We believe the option of these secure units is far more suitable than the unsightly, ripped and torn Canadian Tire garages that grace many properties.”

Mayor Mark Willmer was at pains to point out that no decision had been made yet, and that the purpose of the proposed new Zoning By-Law was to add a definition for storage containers. He said there was “No rush, we try to listen to all input.” He ended the meeting by thanking all members of the public who participated.

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