No shipping containers allowed

Derek Montague
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Town says containers not permitted on residential property

A recent social media post, made by the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Town Council has started a debate about what residents can and cannot do with their own property.

Monica Surina stands next to a small shipping container she is using as a storage shed. She believes residents should be allowed to reuse these containers on their own property.

On their Facebook page, the council posted a notice to residents concerning the use of industrial shipping containers. The post tells residents that these metal containers cannot be used on residential land and “they devalue your own property and your neighbours.”

“They are not permitted in residential areas and can not be used as sheds, storage, or structures,” reads the post. “Given they do not meet the National Building Code of Canada, permits will not be granted and residents that already have them on residential lots are asked to remove them.”

“Town management have also shared this information with representatives from Nalcor Energy and private contractors as to prevent their marketing to private residences.”

People quickly responded to the post, many saying that council should not dictate what residents do with their own property. Others pointed out that there are properties in town with wrecked vehicles that are more unsightly than a shipping container.

Monica Surina is one resident who recently purchased a small container, for approximately $2,000, to use as a shed. In an interview with The Labradorian, Surina said the council should not discourage people from reusing shipping containers, especially since they make reliable storage rooms.

“There’s nothing wrong with these, they’re solid as a rock. I mean, we had to get a crane to get this one in here,” said Surina.

“We’re supposed to be reusing, recycling … if we can, why not?”

Surina is confident she can keep her shipping container because she and her partner live in a commercial area of town. But she believes that others who live in residential areas should be able to use containers, as long as they’re not an eyesore.

“Another thing I have a problem with is they’re telling us what is allowed to be put in our yards. If I want to have one of these in my yard, who’s to say that I can’t?” Asked Surina.

“We’ve got other issues. We’ve got old cars sitting around … there’s a of properties that seriously needs to be looked at for cleaning up, and they’re worried about a couple of shipping containers.”

Surina did some research on how other places in Canada and other countries reuse shipping containers. She found news articles about how some people are converting these objects into housing units and, in one case, a motel.

“These shipping containers have been used for years throughout the world,” said Surina.

“They’re a very popular thing in Europe especially. Europe is light years ahead of us in terms of recycling and reusing.”

The Labradorian tried to contact Mayor Jamie Snook, but he was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s town planner, Ilene Watson-Grant, did say, however, that all municipalities in the province must abide by the National Building Code of Canada. That code, claims Watson-Grant, doesn’t allow for shipping containers to be used on private property.

“What we’re trying to do is get information out there so people are aware about the rules and regulations in terms of what you can and can not put on your property,” said Watson-Grant.

“The town is not in a position to issue building permits for shipping containers. Shipping containers, therefore, can’t be located on (residential) properties within the town.”

Watson-Grant said the town has heard stories that some residents were using shipping containers which is why they used Facebook to let people know what the regulations are.

“We’ve heard rumours … that’s why we’re taking a proactive approach to make sure people are aware of the rules and the permitting limits within the town.”

Organizations: Nalcor Energy

Geographic location: Canada, Europe, Happy Valley Goose Bay

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Recent comments

  • Bill MacK
    July 15, 2014 - 06:56

    This town barely supports recycling (only refundables). I do agree with Monica in this instance. If appearance is an issue to "devalue" the home, the shipping containers can surely be covered up or altered in some way to change this. I also agree with the many points about the less than acceptable yards in this town. They are filled with broken cars, garbage etc. I do not see the town addressing these issues. I agree with the comments in that it is a solid structure, likely more solid than some of the sheds that people use here.

  • Jonathan Michelin
    July 13, 2014 - 16:44

    I honestly would use one as a storage shed for my snowmobiles and yard equipment in the winter, that or a forging area, nothing to burn down LOL

  • Erik
    July 13, 2014 - 15:36

    This coming from a town that doesn't do any sort of town planning or proper residential and commercial zoning... They can't even deploy correctly engineered roadways.. In new neighborhoods they allow contractors to just paint a line on the road and call it a "sidewalk" but reusing a shipping container on your property to store things is unacceptable?? At least it is A) good to reuse/recycle those containers and B) use a solid structure that can't get beat up or run down like a good portion of buildings (esp sheds) in town.

  • Carol Ann Aylward
    July 12, 2014 - 22:45

    I have seen lots of shipping containers used for sheds and most of the containers look better and is a lot more presentable than some home built sheds. As Monica stated what about the car wrecks and poor landscaping in some parts of town, lots of eyesores there, when is council going to do something about that? I see nothing wrong with using the containers but if council is worried about image then set some guidelines for how that container should look. Better to have a useful container in someone’s back yard than in our landfill....recycle!,recycle!

  • Carolyn Michelin
    July 12, 2014 - 11:13

    Shipping containers are being turned into homes I some areas in Canada. They used more than one!