Cornwall kids defy bylaw to stop selling worms

Two Cornwall kids had their home-run bait shop shut down for breaking a city bylaw that requires home businesses to be conducted indoors and with no outdoor signage.

Mayor says changing the bylaw for one case would be 'asinine'

City of Cornwall opens can of worms

8 years ago
Duration 2:01
Two Cornwall youngsters are defying a city bylaw to stop selling worms from their front lawn.

A Cornwall family is defying a city order to stop two kids from selling worms on their front lawn.

Clayton, 8, and Kristopher Cadieux, 10, started their business last summer, digging up worms and selling them as bait for $2.50 per dozen. 

But after a complaint from a neighbour, the brothers received a note from the city saying they were breaking a bylaw and had to shut down their business.

The mayor of Cornwall, Leslie O'Shaughnessy, explained that the bylaw requires all personal business sales be conducted within the home, without outdoor signage.

"It's similar to most bylaws in most municipalities," O'Shaughnessy said. "Yard sales are the prime example. It's not a yard sale when you have them every day — it's home occupation, it becomes a business.

"So what the municipality did was restrict the number of yard sales you can have to two a year, so that all of a sudden, your district doesn't become a flea market from yard sales every week."

The city told the brothers to move their business inside their home, and to take down their signs on their front lawn. 

Brothers will continue selling worms from front lawn

The brothers' father, Robert Cadieux, said the family will protest the bylaw and continue with the home-run bait shop despite the $240 daily fine.

"We were livid. Like, God! How could this be? They're two little kids, eight and 10, selling worms," he said. 

"They're not going to have pay the fine," Cadieux added. "I am! Because I'm the daddy, and it's daddy's house. But I'm willing to do that for my kids."

Kristopher said the worm enterprise only brought in about $34 a month last summer, and he doesn't understand why he and his brother are being told they can't sell worms from their front lawn.

"I didn't feel too good about that," he said. "I thought at least we're doing something. Most of my friends play video games. I'm building responsibilities."

City councillor Justin Towndale said he thinks the bylaw has gone too far and he intends to raise the issue at the next council meeting. 

"The bylaw is there to prevent businesses in residential areas and also stop illegal businesses," he said. "But it's gone too far, because it's got kids caught up in its web. And that wasn't how it was intended to function."

The mayor doesn't agree that the bylaw needs rewriting.

"The fact that the population of the city of Cornwall is 47,000 and you would change a bylaw for one person, to me, is asinine," he said, adding that the incident has become a "black eye" for the city for enforcing a bylaw "that is strictly following the wishes of the people."

"You are allowed to [sell worms] in the confines of your home, with no signage," he said. "In other words, if people want to pick up worms, they knock on your door, you hand them the worms, they hand you the money, they leave. 

"Not a problem, but then again you do have to comply with the bylaw and with the city of Cornwall."

Listen to the interview with Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy below: