Prince Rupert city council has opened a can of worms with its most recent discussion about containers in the downtown core, perhaps creating more questions than providing answers or clarity.
First question: Are containers a useful means of storage for business or an eyesore that detracts from some of the work done to beautify the community? You can paint all the murals you want and add a splash of colour to formerly dull buildings until the cows come home, but if those projects are done across the street from a giant metal box the effect is completely lost. And if you allow one set of containers downtown, you’re not going to be able to stop the proliferation of containers as businesses recognize their usefulness in a tight downtown core.
Next question: Why business friendly, but not dog friendly? You can’t tell a family you’re not willing to change the bylaws to accommodate one extra dog then turn around and say bylaws need to be changed to accommodate containers that are clearly not permitted by those same bylaws. What is good for families should be good for business and fairness is key.
And the final question: Do you really want to breed a culture where council backs down from their bylaws when someone breaks them and are caught doing so? Council told the family that built a backyard rink so the neighbourhood children could safely play hockey in the great outdoors that the structure had to go because it was built without following the city’s bylaws — that is what is known as precedent. To allow a business that does something in the face of the city’s bylaws without first talking to council sets another precedent: That businesses in town can get away with things people in town cannot.
Council has really backed themselves into a corner when it comes to the issue of allowing containers to stay in the downtown, and I am sure those residents who have been on the opposite side of the fence and were told “the bylaws are the bylaws” will be watching with a keen eye as to how the city responds.