There’s no gray area when it comes to putting containers in your front and back yards in Maple Ridge.
It’s simply in black and white.
You’re not allowed.
“The zoning bylaw prohibits them,” said bylaws director Liz Holitzki.
The issue has confused a few residents who have them in the lots and use them for storage, such as Kathie Haidon.
She and her husband Gord have had an old Seaspan container in her back yard for two years and fought a previous ticket to have the container removed.
That ticket was cancelled because the bylaw officer left the employ of the District of Maple Ridge.
In the meantime, the Haidons received another letter, this time telling them the container violates the building code and they have until Nov. 24 to remove it.
“If we don’t remove it, they’re going to give us a $500 fine. We’ll wait for the fine and take it to court,” Kathie Haidon said.
She added that her lawyer says the bylaw is unclear and doesn’t include containers.
The Haidons live on 228th Street, just north of Dewdney Trunk Road, and needs the container for storage.
If they get the approval to build a ‘granny’ suite, combined with a workshop, in their back yard, they’ll no longer need the container and it can be removed.
Holitzki said the bylaws department tries to work with residents to find a way to help them comply with the bylaw. That includes issuing warning letters and giving people time to find alternatives, such as building a shed. But if they dig in their heels, they can also issue fines, one-time penalties or even daily fines of $300.
Some construction and roofing contractors will consult with bylaws before bringing sheds on to properties for debris removal, Holitzki pointed out. That’s still illegal, however, even if it’s just for a few days, she added.
Long-time Maple Ridge resident Peter Lueks has had a container in his yard for 14 years, using it to store antique engines. He likes the old shipping containers because they’re secure and dry. “As long as you don’t open them up when it’s raining, the moisture stays out of it.”
Many properties have them, he says.
But Lueks also has to remove his container, once his work shed receives all the required permits.
He also maintains that containers are not prohibited in the district’s bylaws.
“Why do I see containers all over the place?”