One year after being widely booed for booting two young sisters selling lemonade along Colonel By Drive, the National Capital Commission has pulled a bureaucratic 180 and is now inviting kids to get their entrepreneurial juices flowing by opening kiosks of their own on NCC land.

"Are you interested in setting up your own business this summer? Do you want to gain a bit of entrepreneurial experience? We may have just the thing for you!" reads a recent posting on the NCC website offering a special permit to young would-be entrepreneurs.

The federal agency was the target of online ridicule after it closed the kiosk run by sisters Eliza and Adela Andrews, who were seven and five years old at the time, because they were operating without a permit on NCC land. 

The next day — and after a good deal of national media coverage — the NCC apologized and gave the girls a permit, with some conditions.

Lemonade stand

Eliza and Adela Andrews set up their unlicensed lemonade stand along Colonel By Drive. (Submitted by Kurtis Andrews)

Now the NCC appears to be turning last summer's lemon into yet more lemonade.

On May 21 the NCC launched a pilot program calling on young people between the ages of five and 17 who are interested in operating kiosks along select NCC roadways during three of the Nokia Sunday Bikedays between June 18 and Sept. 3. Locations include the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, the Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier Parkway and Colonel By Drive. 

NCC officials "strongly recommend" kids who want to open a kiosk participate in a workshop for young entrepreneurs at NCC headquarters before obtaining a free permit, the posting said. The Ottawa Network for Education is offering the workshop. 

'Nice to see that they've switched gears'

The Andrews sisters' father, Kurtis Andrews, told CBC News he's no longer sour about how the federal agency treated his daughters. In fact, he said the girls are excited to open a kiosk along the parkway again this year. 

"It's nice to see that they've switched gears and are encouraging it now," Andrews said. 

"They were good to us last year after everything that happened, aside from the initial situation, obviously. I think they're trying as much as they can to make this into a positive as they can."

Andrews noted there are still a few layers of bureaucracy for kids to wade through, but said it isn't necessarily a bad thing for young ones to learn how to find their way through red tape. 

There are no fewer than 15 conditions kids must follow, according to the NCC posting:

  • They must display the permit on their kiosk.
  • They must take sole responsibility for their kiosk, and not hold the NCC responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment.
  • They must be sure the beverage or other product they sell is safe for consumption.
  • They must be sure to keep their work area and kiosk clean at all times. 
  • They must be sure that they operate the kiosk safely, so that the public and their customers are not in any danger.
  • They must respect all laws and regulations while they're operating their kiosk. This includes federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations concerning, but not limited to, health and safety.
  • If they post any signs on or near their kiosk, they must appear in both English and French, with English appearing first.
  • They must agree to indemnify the NCC, and anyone for whom the NCC is responsible, from all financial consequences, including reasonable legal fees, arising from any demands, claims or actions made or brought against the NCC, directly or indirectly, even after the permit expires.
  • They must donate at least seven per cent of all revenues they collect to a cause or charity of their choice, and report all revenues earned to the NCC.
  • They must agree to operate and be present at their kiosk for three Sundays.
  • Location is based on availability of the site.
  • They must confirm that they're between the ages of five and 17 years old.
  • Kiosks must not be larger than 10 feet by 10 feet, and must be installed before the roads close for Sunday Bikedays, and dismantled as soon as the roads reopen to vehicles.
  • They must be present and supervise their kiosk during the entire activity.
  • Parents or legal guardians must read and sign the permit. 

The NCC website has a map of the kiosk locations available this year. 

WIth files from Trevor Pritchard