Town denies request for container retail outlet

The owner of an Osoyoos retail business gutted by fire in May cannot resume operations from a shipping container.

The owner of an Osoyoos retail business gutted by fire in May cannot resume operations from a shipping container.

Darlene Dorion, owner of the Dollar Smart Discount store in Osoyoos, proposed to council that she temporarily place a shipping container on her property for the purposes of selling inflatable toys for the remainder of the season. The toys have already been purchased by her late husband, but she could receive a refund for them. Town staff said they believe her intent was to have the shipping container as a storage area and use the fence on the property to display the product.

“This is a very, very difficult topic and decision that we are faced with and I can certainly see how it can be fixed up so it can be quite enticing, but I also am seeing some things that scare me,” said Coun. Margaret Chadsey, of her motion not to allow the container which received unanimous support from council.

The Dollar Smart Discount store was engulfed in flames that jumped from the Victory Church store on May 1.

Staff did not support the proposal of allowing a shipping container and stated it is staff’s intent to introduce a zoning bylaw amendment that shipping containers only be permitted in agricultural industrial zoned areas, mainly for esthetic reasons.

“Most importantly the building code does not recognize shipping containers as occupiable structures,” said Phil Armstrong, planning technician for the Town of Osoyoos.

Town staff said they often receive requests from individuals wishing to temporarily operate a retail store selling items like clothes or jewelry from a town park or from empty lots. Currently, the business licence bylaw only allows food and beverage vending. Armstrong said there is a risk that if they allowed Dorion’s proposal the town may receive many more applications from businesses that want to set up a temporary storefront. There are no formal regulations in place to permit this type of business and allowing it could open up the town to liability issues.

Armstrong said the town staff met with Dorion and explained the town’s perspective, bylaws, building code and provided her with a list of at least eight vacant storefronts looking for tenants.