Shipping Containers

Shipping containers were designed to facilitate the transportation of goods accross many different transportation systems including ships, railways, and trucks. These containers have increasingly been used for purposes other than what they were designed for and this poses a significant public safety hazard and a hazard to first responders. The City of Fernie has updated its Zoning Bylaw and Fire and Life Safety Bylaw to regulate where and how shipping containers may be used in Fernie. 

Where can I have a Shipping Container?

Residential Zones

Shipping Containers are prohibited in residential homes except for some temporary situations stipulated in section 3 of the Zoning Bylaw. These include:

  1.  For a period of 1 month to facilitate moving
  2. For storage incidental to construction on the property where there is a valid building permit issued for the construction.

Other Zones

In some non-residential zones shipping containers can be permitted. Typically, these will be in areas that require development permits. Where shipping containers are to be permitted or continue to be used, they must be modified to increase ventilation and reduce the potential for explosion in accordance with the Fire and Life Safety Bylaw. Temporary placement of shipping containers is permissible in accordance with section 3 of the Zoning Bylaw.

What if I already have a Shipping Container on my property?

If you have a sea can on your property that either already has a permit or was installed in a manner that conformed to the requirements of the Zoning Bylaw and Official Community Plan in place at the time of its installation (eg: setbacks site, coverage, Development Permit Requirements) you will be permitted to keep it provided it is modified in accordance with section 13 of the Fire Protection and Life Safety Bylaw. Note that the following are not permitted in a lawfully non-conforming shipping container:

  1. No flammable or combustible liquids or gases may be stored in the shipping container.
  2. No plumbing, electrical, or gas services or connections are permitted to the shipping container.
  3. If any dangerous goods are stored within the shipping container the container must have placards mounted on two sides of the container most visible to first responders. 

If your shipping container is located inappropriately on your property, exceeds site coverage, otherwise did not conform to the zoning regulations in place at the time of installation, would have required a building permit to be modified, or required a development permit, it was installed illegally and must be removed. These shipping containers are unlawful and their removal is not appealable and there is no avenue to vary this requirement. 

Can I build a building out of Shipping Containers?

Yes, you can construct a building where shipping containers are a component of the building; however, that building must comply with BC codes and would typically require construction under the design and supervision of a qualified registered professional.