Nova Scotia

Young female-staffed business could be out of luck if Mahone Bay bylaws change

A business staffed by teenage girls might have to move if Mahone Bay's temporary vending bylaws change. The Seaside Creamery is in the "open shoreline" zone, where no structure can be any higher than five feet in order to preserve the view plane of the harbour.

Mahone Bay is looking to change its temporary vending bylaws

The staff at the Seaside Creamery stand in front of their business in Mahone Bay. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

More than a dozen teenage girls in Mahone Bay may be out of work soon if the town moves forward with changes to their bylaws.

All of the girls will be in high school next year and they say they've been getting an excellent business education by operating the Seaside Creamery.

"It's just been nice to learn about everything like how to handle money and how to talk to customers," said Taylor Johnson. "We know them by first-name basis and the locals are really good to us."

The business was opened last summer by Mark Lowe as an ice cream shop on Edgewater Street.

Two of the staff members at the Seaside Creamery work together to take and prepare a customer's order. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The business has expanded their menu and now offers donuts, hot dogs, hamburgers and lobster rolls.

But it recently hit its first snag. The town of Mahone Bay is looking to change its temporary vending bylaws.

The proposed change would mean the creamery would only be allowed to be open one week per month unless it moved to another location.

"I essentially would have to shut down the creamery," said Lowe. "The kids would be thrown out of work, which I don't think is fair."

Zoning issues

The business is set up on Lowe's waterfront property and is not zoned commercial.

The town says it's in the "open shoreline" zone, where no structure can be any higher than five feet in order to preserve the view plane of the harbour and the town's iconic three churches, one of the most photographed sights in Nova Scotia.

Obscuring the view plane to Mahone Bay's famous three churches is one of the reasons why the Seaside Creamery may have to relocate. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"The problem comes back to the notion of having zoning on properties in the town and protecting what council sees as the best interest of the entire town and not just one individual," said Mahone Bay Mayor David Devenne, who said there may be options that could save the shop from having to move.

"There is a possibility for rezoning, or a variance or a development agreement."

The budding entrepreneurs say they're learning how to provide the best service for their customers, and the idea of having their business shut down to just one week a month would ruin their summer plans.

"It's pretty upsetting to hear about it," said Marjanah Kalau. "It's a really good experience to work here, we're learning a lot and everyone seems to like it."

The future of the Seaside Creamery could be decided at a town council meeting Tuesday night in Mahone Bay. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

How the zoning issue will play out could come to a head at this week's town council session.

Council will meet Tuesday night and it will be decided then if further bylaw revisions are required.

Lowe says if the town changes the bylaws, they will be forced to move their business out of town. But that's not what he wants to see happen.

"We live in Mahone Bay, we love Mahone Bay," said Lowe. "But if push comes to shove, I can't have a viable business for the students for one week per month."



Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.