In Coquitlam, a city desperately lacking in homeless shelters, one man's attempt to help out has been tied up in bureaucratic red tape.

Gerry Sly says he was heartbroken seeing the homeless camps in the bushes next to his business, Boyd Autobody and Glass. In February, he decided to put some of them up in a specially-built container his company's work yard.

The trailer has eight separate units, all heated, with a shared bathroom.

"These people that are living in the bush, they're human beings," he said. "They deserve to be able to live a respectable life."

But that can be difficult, with not a single permanent homeless shelter in the Tri-Cities – despite estimates of nearly 200 people living on the streets of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

And earlier this week, the City of Coquitlam stepped in to put an end to his temporary solution. Sly was told he would be charged $150 per day if he let anyone sleep in the containers.

The city's mayor says the property isn't zoned for residential use, and Sandy Burpee, the chair of a task force on homelessness in the Tri-Cities, doesn't like the idea of putting the homeless in container units.

"For me, any kind of shelter for people who are homeless needs to have more than just a roof over their head," Burpee said.

There are plans for a permanent shelter in Coquitlam, but it's been delayed by funding problems and could take years to build. In the mean time, most of the homeless people who had been living in Sly's container are back on the street.

"It seems no matter where you go, you step up and try to do something, and you're not allowed to do it," Sly said.

Sly's container was provided by Shadow Lines Transportation Group, which has tried to sell more units at cost to Surrey and Langley as shelters.

The company says it could build enough units to house every homeless person in the Tri-Cities, but has been turned down.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jina You