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July 8, 2015

Hat Trick

Being lazy on this grey day, I listened to Information Morning and heard the various rants against the latest Lunenburg Lunacy.

Anna Shoub, owner of The Hat Junkie, a home business at 111 Lawrence St, wants to open her studio to visitors and have a sign outside.  Taking the straightforward approach, she sought the necessary permits.

Now Ms. Shoub has run up against a by-law that would require her to make renovations costing $20,000.  It seems the by-law requires extensive renovations itself.

If Ms. Shoub were opening a store, then the regulations ought to apply.  There are a ton of businesses in Lunenburg that aren't up to code, and you gotta start somewhere.  Retail stores are regulated because they affect neighbourhoods, consume municipal services, have employees, and generally need to treat all customers equally.

On the other hand, The Hat Junkie really seems to be a tiny home-based business, where the hats are made; Shoub ought to be able to have incidental commercial activity.   There are a lot of examples of by-laws that make the distinction:

As a wheelchair user, I take issue with how these stories often center around ramps and accessible washrooms, as if I caused the problem.  The problem is with the by-law, not accessibility.  I think courtesy demands a ramp, but  I'm not really in the hat market.  If I were, I wouldn't be shopping anyplace with steps.

This is the third time in a few months that Lunenburg has made controversial judgements about building codes and businesses.  I am totally in agreement with the building inspector in one, totally opposed on another.  The by-laws need re-working.  Just as regulations should protect people in all kinds of situations, they need to be flexible.  The Lunenburg by-laws don't seem to be subtle enough to make a distinction between a home-based business, and a commercial retail establishment.

Ms. Shoub takes the next logical step by mounting a petition to amend the by-laws.  She explains the situation clearly.  I urge you to sign it and Lunenburg to include people with disabilities in the proposed committee of citizens.


hatjunkie said...

I really enjoyed your blog post and agree with you completely. As my business grows and I find I have enough customers to my little studio I will strongly consider a ramp. As it is right now I am really quite small time when it comes to customers in my shop. If you ever want a hat, I will come drive out to see you, but you would have to like flowers. Keep up the good fight and please keep me posted.

Anonymous said...

I personally feel that she has inclusive options. If she wants to sell her hats online, that is an option. If she wants to commission the hats to a store she may make that choice. If she wants to sell direct she can do so at a public market. If she wants to open her home business to the public, she needs to make it open to all of the public. Exclusion shouldn’t be an acceptable option in 2015.