Village of Big Valley looks into sea cans for residential storage

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Big Valley will look into allowing residents to use sea cans as storage facilities. The discussion was held at the Dec. 30 regular meeting of council.

Mayor Clark German opened the discussion on the use of “sea cans,” which are known by a plethora of names, including “c cans,” as storage facilities. in residential neighbourhoods.

For readers who may not be familiar with sea cans, they are large metal shipping containers principally used in overseas cargo transport, which can be easily stacked at ports and loaded or unloaded from trains. 

After being decommissioned for reasons including age or rusting, they are sometimes sold as storage containers in residential, commercial or industrial settings.

German stated he’s heard questions in the community about the use of sea cans for residential storage.

The mayor noted Big Valley council, about 14 years ago, decided to prohibit sea cans in residential neighbourhoods because they don’t add to the aesthetics of the community.

German stated he felt that if sea cans were presented properly, they could be a viable option for residential storage.

Coun. Harry Nibourg agreed that the idea has merit, and noted that sea cans are being used widely and can be customized with roofs, trusses, windows and many other options. 

Nibourg stated the metal structure of the sea can also makes it a very secure storage option, if available.

Mayor German added that sea cans are also very durable.

Coun. Art Tizzard stated he felt sea cans had the potential to be made much more attractive looking than than so-called “soft shell garages,” which are already permitted in Big Valley.

Soft-shell garages are tent-like structures marketed and sold as portable garages for light vehicles. Some communities don’t permit them usually because some critics feel the garage’s appearance harms the aesthetics of the community.

ECA Review readers may recall the Town of Castor looked into sea cans as a residential storage option in 2020. After town staff researched the issue, Castor council decided against it based on aesthetics and to a lesser extent safety. 

Some fire departments have pointed out the steel structures could pose a serious obstacle in certain emergencies.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell, stated if councillors approved sea cans as residential storage options the village should have some rules in place because she felt there would likely be complaints about the sea-cans from other community members.

Mayor German agreed, and stated village staff could examine how other communities have handled sea cans as storage containers in residential areas.

Coun. Nibourg stated that some counties allow residents to bury sea cans. Schell pointed out that county rules are often different from urban rules.

It was decided that village staff would look into how other communities handle sea cans as storage in residential areas and report back at a future meeting.

Coun. Nibourg added that sea cans could turn out to be a good option for residents. 

“You can make some of those sea cans pretty neat,” he added.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.