A local resident has taken her frustrations to city council after she was told to remove an illegal shipping container on her residential lot.
Arlene Ridler had until July 24 to move the large container, which is in violation of a zoning bylaw, from her 22-acre property on Graham Avenue.
She appeared before city council on July 25 to ask that they consider allowing the container to stay.
“The shipping container existed on this property well before City bylaws disallowing them even existed,” Ridler said in her address to council.
“I could see the issue if I was on a small city lot with homes all around me, but I’m not. I am on 22 acres at the end of a street with my parents on one side and the sewage treatment plant on the other,” she said.
Arlene and Ron Ridler first received a notice from the city in April stating they had until May 31 to remove the shipping container – popularly known as a sea can – from their acreage at the west end of Graham Avenue, adjacent to the City of Terrace’s sewage treatment lagoon.
After requesting an extension, the Ridlers were told to relocate the container before the start of this week or face fines starting at $100, an amount that increases over time if the container is not moved.
They have used the container for storing everything from horse supplies to garden tools since they purchased it in Vancouver for $4,500 four years ago.
Under City of Terrace zoning bylaw No. 2069-2014, the permanent usage of shipping containers is prohibited in areas zoned as agricultural or residential.
In a letter to council, Ridler said she was grateful for the work staff had done to allow an extension, but felt that it was unfair that her property was being targeted for bylaw enforcement.
“I take this very personally, because I have driven all over this town and there are so many far worse properties than my own,” she said.
“I feel like I’m being unjustly treated, on 22-acres where there’s my parents on one side and a road on the other. You can see the sea can from the road, but it’s not going to stay there.”
The city is aware of other properties violating the shipping container bylaws, but Ridler’s notice also contained a nuisance bylaw violation that said “the state of yard is starting to become a nuisance to surrounding properties.”
Because of the “unsightly” shipping container, the city was compelled to look at the issue immediately, according to the city’s bylaw enforcement officer Dwayne Sheppard.
Ridler told council she is particularly unnerved that someone had complained to the city about her property’s appearance, noting that daily trespassers on her property use it as a route to the Skeena River.
But Ridler said she is open to complying with the bylaw.
“I’m not saying I won’t comply, we have many ideas for how to shield the sea can, but we are in the process of landscaping,” Ridler explained.
“I would like to actually put a wall around the sea can, a hedge or flowers.”
She said health issues have made it difficult for her and her husband to put work into their yard.
City planner Tara Irwin said that the first 40 meters of the Ridlers’ property is zoned residential, but the remaining land on the lot is zoned agricultural.
“We are aware of [other] shipping containers that exist on properties in agricultural zones,” said Irwin. “The challenge is that [this one] is on a residential zone.”
She said the city could look into a temporary use permit to keep the container on the agricultural portion of the land for a short period of time.
But Ridler said she wanted people in the community to be aware that containers are not allowed in residential zones.
“The reason I’m here . . . is to bring awareness to the public about this,” she added. “People are buying shipping containers every day.”
Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc thanked Ridler for her presentation, but said council would refer the matter to staff.
“This isn’t the place to have this conversation,” she said.