Editorial – Let’s play ‘Kick the Can!’

Jeff Burgar

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.

So it was, former Big Lakes County Councillor Ed Podollan looked out one day from his Joussard cottage, a cottage nestled in a grove of trees on about a dozen acres on the eastern side of the hamlet.

Lo and behold, he spied, next door, at the time, another acreage of gravelled, barren, partly developed [complete with two or three seemingly abandoned trailers] and lots of unmowed grass.

But today, there was a new addition! To whit, a 40-foot long, steel shipping container! Baby blue and rusty, plunked down in the middle of the aforesaid, semi-developed, barren property.

Now it should be mentioned, this particular property and its owners, along with Podollan, have been at words for several years. Property lines, says Podollan, were not observed. Trees were knocked down that should not have been. Drainage was impacted. This is all a matter of record. In fact, it was among the root reasons Podollan ran for councillor of the Joussard ward. The shipping container came along afterwards.

Today, Podollan is no longer a councillor. His actions live on. Big Lakes County has surveyed its people about containers. The public’s answer was, by a ratio of more than three to one, just leave all containers in all the hamlets alone.

So, in the best tradition of governments everywhere, the county decided it needed rules. My goodness, we presume they asked themselves, what if people started building chicken coops out of sea cans? What if they tried to build an apartment? What if they decided to drag 10 or 20 onto their lot, close to a $500,000 lakeshore property? Or even built a guest house out of a container?

Oh, the horror of it all! We just can’t have that! Absolutely not!

So, a bylaw proposal was written up and brought to council. There is discussion so far about length, with larger versions not to be allowed.

So far.

Plus a gaggle of other regulations that basically, agree with Podollan: shipping containers are ugly, ugly, ugly, and that’s that.

Oh, one can twist and turn and wiggle and try to say they are OK on a farm, but just not suitable in cottage country beside million dollar cabins.

One presumes that High Prairie residents, with outraged sensitivities, will soon be clamouring for the removal, or coverup, of all the containers in businesses around that community.

As always, there is no black and white. A compromise could be that only certain colours be allowed, baby blue and rust not among them. Or a screen, as Smitty’s Restaurant in High Prairie built after a town councillor there started his own clean-up campaign.

Anyway, there are various conditions set in the proposed Big Lakes County bylaw. Containers, being practical, strong, inexpensive and long-lasting, not to mention, being loved by their owners, seem here to stay.

And of course, so are rules.

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