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Smithers Council bends the rules on shipping containers downtown

Brewery permit extended; Positive Living North granted right to use sea can as Veterans Park office
Smithers council granted Positive Living North a temporary use permit to use a shipping container as an office in Veterans Park to provide services to people living in tents there. (Thom Barker photo)

Despite there being a bylaw not allowing sea cans in the downtown core, Smithers council temporarily gave permission for two sea cans in two different parts of the town at the June 14 regular meeting of council.

First and after much deliberation, council gave an extension to a temporary use permit for one behind Bulkley Valley Brewery that is currently being used for storage.

Council understood that businesses have had to adjust to the challenges posed by the recent pandemic and the owner of the brewery has added some wood screening in front of the sea can to make it look nicer. The building’s owner also has expansion plans and once those are completed, the container will be removed from the site — meaning the property would regain compliance with the bylaws.

The extended temporary permit will be valid for three years.

READ MORE: BV Brewery wins silver in national beer competition for oatmeal stout

Initially, some councillors were torn on what to do, including Mayor Gladys Atrill who said she was weighing out the idea of keeping the downtown core looking nice and having all the businesses playing by the rules versus helping businesses recover from the pandemic, especially those in the hospitality industry. In the end, all council members voted in favour except Coun. Lorne Benson who had trouble with the length of the extension, saying it should be a year less.

Next, council approved the temporary use of a shipping container to be used by Positive Living North as an office in Veteran’s Park for the purpose of providing administrative and support services for people experiencing homelessness.

In May, council directed staff to make a portion of Veteran’s Park the primary location for homeless tent camping in Smithers.

READ MORE: Town to allow people to camp near Veteran’s Park

A few letters against the idea from the park’s surrounding neighbours were sent to council. Atrill acknowledged the concerns but also said she had sympathy for those needing the help.

“If it’s not us who helps, who tries to help?” She questioned. “If it’s not here, where? We’ve tried other places. It’s difficult to be homeless, it’s difficult to be addicted, it’s difficult to be in a small town without adequate supports.”

The office will be maintained, and paid for, through grants, by Positive Living North.

The permit will be valid until December 14 2022.


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Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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