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Building Canadian Self-Storage: Overcoming Red Tape and Politics

David Hornblow Comments
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Be Prepared

Meanwhile, if you want to build a new self-storage facility, be up and running, creating cash flow, within three to six months. What can you do? The path to development is filled with hidden rules and obstacles, and the best thing you can do is be prepared.

Consider the various authorities at the municipal and provincial level and the subsequent building codes and planning regulations they have been charged to enforce. To navigate the quagmire, you need to hire a construction team knowledgeable in municipal code, zoning and planning rules. Professionals will be best equipped to anticipate local requirements as you choose and acquire property and prepare to seek building permits. These people can anticipate municipal requirements, ask the right questions, do the due diligence with early planning, and answer all city requirements and potential objections in a timely fashion.

That said, there are some municipalities in which even the most knowledgeable team will find it difficult to make progress. Sometimes, even when you follow all of the rules, you’ll encounter officials who put the brakes on a project at a whim. These situations can be negotiated further with planning representatives and local politicians, sometimes using legal representation. But they will cost time and, usually, some sort of deal will need to be made that will also cost money.

In short, even when you have the right team in place and are aware of all normal requirements, there can be unforeseeable pitfalls to face. Overcoming them can bring a sense of exhilaration that will mitigate the pain, but it may not balance the additional cost.

Time delays aside, if you are fully aware of all municipal requirements in advance, building your project in accordance with local codes and regulation should not cost you any more than normal. It’s only when you encounter uncooperative officials or fail to prepare that you can end up costing yourself unnecessary time and money.

David Hornblow is the construction manager for Ontario, Canada-based Canadian Metal Manufacturing Inc. (CMMI), a developer of turnkey self-storage systems. Established in 1999 as a metal-fabricating company, CMMI has been working in the self-storage industry since 2003. For more information, call 888.951.1762; visit

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