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Surrey shipping container is not a garden shed, judge rules

"It looks like a shipping container," the judge said.
shipping containers in delta industrial area
A B.C. Supreme Court judge told a Surrey man he had to remove a shipping container from his yard.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has told a Surrey man he cannot have a shipping container as a shed for storing his children’s things in his garden.

The City of Surrey took Praveen Kaur Koonar and Jaswinder Singh Koonar to court saying bylaws prohibited them from having a large metal shipping container in their yard located in a single-family, residential-zoned area.

The city sought an injunction to require the shipping container’s removal and a further order that would prevent any other shipping container from being placed on the property in its place. 

“The shipping container, the structure that we are concerned with, is either a shipping container or it is not,” Justice Geoffrey Gomery said in the Feb. 21 decision.

“It looks like a shipping container.”

Gomery said what differentiated this shipping container from others was that it had a door and three windows cut into the long side.

“Mr. Koonar says that he has never seen a shipping container in use as a shipping container that had a door and windows installed in this way,” Gomery said.

“Mr. Koonar says that he has been using the shipping container as a storage shed, that he bought it for use as a storage shed, and he has never used it for any other purpose.”

Gomery said the container was clearly manufactured as one but had been modified.

“Mr. Koonar said what constitutes a structure is its use not the materials it’s made of or its appearance.
I disagree,” Gomery said. “It would permit any shipping container to be placed on property and cease to become a shipping container as soon as it was used for some purposes other than the immediate shipment of goods and I cannot imagine that is what the bylaw intends,” the judge said.

The city had been seeking the container’s removal since the spring of 2022 and had given several deadline extensions.

Gomery gave Koonar 30 days to remove the container and awarded the city $1,000 in costs for the case.