There was an interesting planning discussion during an Algonquin Highlands council meeting last week and similarly interesting planning discussions are bound to take place amongst the county’s other municipal councils in the not-so-distant future.
While the phrase “interesting planning discussion” may appear to be an oxymoron, introduce the term “shipping containers” into the mix and you’ve got yourself a hot-button issue.
Last week’s discussion was about how the township should address shipping containers – yes, the big, steel bins used to transport goods on seafaring vessels – being used as accessory buildings in the township.
To be clear, the conversation was around shipping containers as storage sheds, not around shipping containers as dwellings, although the latter will also be a topic local councils are going to have to broach at some point, whether they like it or not.
This issue is incredibly polarizing. Some people are adamant shipping containers be heavily regulated, while others see the control of their use as a heavy-handed trampling of property owners’ rights by local governments.
Even among councillors themselves the issue is divisive. The draft bylaw council was looking at suggested relegating use of the containers to certain zones; general industrial, general commercial, etc.
Reeve Carol Moffatt said she was “gobsmacked” when it became clear that other council members would consider the structures in areas with residential zoning, including shoreline residential areas.
Councillors eventually backed off the idea of allowing the containers on shoreline residential properties, which is probably a good thing, if any of them ever want to get elected ever again.
However, a revised bylaw that will come back to council at its next meeting would permit them in rural residential lots of a certain minimum size.
Before anyone freaks out too badly, remember that a zoning bylaw amendment such as this must go to a public meeting and when that public meeting takes place, if this is an issue of interest to you, you should plan to attend.
While this particular discussion is not residential in nature, there is a growing, widespread appetite for alternative forms of housing, including shipping container houses and tiny homes.
Just turn on Home and Garden Television and you’ll see.
An environmentally conscious generation accustomed to precarious contract work and stagnant wages is coming into home ownership and some of its members are looking for alternatives to traditional houses that are more financially viable and create less of a carbon footprint.
With cheap rural land and relatively close proximity to the GTA, Haliburton County could make an ideal location for many of these alternative house hunters. They could help grow the community’s year-round population and boost its tax base.
However, planning for such forms of alternative housing will need to be done in a mindful and strategic way in order to avoid a total shipwreck.