British Columbia

Roadside jam stand in Saanich forced to pack up

Katherine List started her roadside jam stand in Saanich, B.C., as a way to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder. But the District of Saanich says the stand must now go because of bylaw violations.

Katherine Little has until June 6 to shut down the jam stand she's run outside her home for a year

Katherine Little says her jam business has provided a "touch of humanity" to her neighbourhood. (Submitted by Katherine Little)

When Katherine Little started her neighbourhood jam stand, it was a way to rebuild herself.

The B.C. woman had worked 18 years in law enforcement in Vancouver and was injured in the line of duty. She later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After Little moved to the suburb of Saanich two years ago and discovered a 15-metre-long raspberry bush on her property, she figured she'd save the massive haul of berries from going to waste.

Her roadside business, The Little Stand, soon came to life.

Little set up the tiny stand outside of her home on Queensbury Avenue, a quiet street next to Cedar Hill Park, and started selling jams that, over a year, expanded to 17 varieties.

But now the stand must go.

Little started by selling raspberries, peaches and blackberries growing on her property. She later offered jams, jellies, salsa, chutney and antipasto. (CHEK News)

That's according to the District of Saanich. It says that Little is selling her jams on municipal property, which isn't zoned for business use.

Little has until June 6 to pack up, or risk a fine of up to $250 per day.

"This stand to me, when I put it out there every day, gives me a reason to get up," she told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

"It gives me a reason to give back to our community and be a part of it. And I'm finding humanity again."

'It's been an absolute joy'

Little has gathered 700 signatures in support of her business, which she delivered in a binder Tuesday to the mayor's office.

Little says neighbours have largely embraced her business. Word of mouth has spread, she added, and customers have travelled from as far as Oak Bay, about a 15-minute drive away.

On top of her binder of signatures, Little has started an online petition calling on the district to reverse its decision. (CHEK News)

She sets up the table in the morning and leaves it for the day. Customers are able to leave cash and grab a jar. 

Little has also started selling salsa, chutney and antipasto. "It's been an absolute joy and offered a sense of community," Little said.

Bylaw violations

The district received complaints that the stand had signs up on the street and hydro poles, said District of Saanich spokesperson Kelsie McLeod.

It also wouldn't help Little to move her business up to her driveway. McLeod noted retail sales aren't allowed on most residential properties. 

Bylaw staff have offered Little other options, McLeod said, such as selling the jams at a farmers' market or online.

But Little says she's not in it for the money.

She has paid out of pocket to complete a food safety course and to have her jams made in a commercial kitchen.

She noted the location, near a golf course, also attracts people walking or biking by.

"We've got something that's unique to Saanich," she said.

"I hope that [the district] reconsiders the decision."

With files from CBC's On The Island and CHEK News