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Containers raise question of how business friendly the City of Prince Rupert should be

Containers in the downtown core were a point of contention among councillors on Feb. 11. - Shaun Thomas photo
Containers in the downtown core were a point of contention among councillors on Feb. 11.
— image credit: Shaun Thomas photo

A recommendation from staff to have two shipping containers removed from the downtown core turned into a discussion about how business-friendly the City of Prince Rupert should be.

The containers in question sit beside V. Amante Home Supplies in an area zoned C1 by the city's Zoning Bylaw, which prohibits the presence of containers in commercial areas, and are used to store pellets for the pellet stove sold in the store. While the initial thought was to table the idea as discussion took place between the city and the business owner, Coun. Barry Cunningham called the whole thing "ridiculous"

"Here you have a small business on Third Avenue that is struggling to survive and they are finding ways to store their stuff without great cost of rebuilding or anything while other businesses on Third Avenue are closing or still closed. We always tell everyone we are open for business, this is an example of trying to shut down a small business," he said, taking aim at the bylaw itself.

"This is a bylaw we should revisit and possibly amend. Shipping containers are all over town, everyone is using them. This bylaw is archaic."

Those sentiments were echoed by others in the chamber, who said the time may have come to revise what is and is not permitted under the zoning bylaw.

"We have a limited amount of space as it is in Prince Rupert ... whenever I go by the store and see different things, whether it's their store or someone else, it doesn't look unsightly, it looks like they are productive. It looks like they are in business and they have things coming and going," said Coun. Judy Carlick-Pearson.

"It's something that has come up because it is in a bylaw that hasn't been looked at and a bylaw that may need changing ... if there are a lot of businesses that are using them for storage because of space, then I think we need to relook at the bylaw," said Coun. Anna Ashley.

"I do not want to see an increase in the number of proliferation of containers around town, but I think there are circumstances from time to time that render them useful," said Coun. Joy Thorkelson.

For the time being, council agreed to put off taking any action regarding the containers while city staff and the business owner worked toward a mutually agreeable solution.

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