Ottawa

National Capital Commission apologizes for how it shut down kid-run lemonade stand

The federal body responsible for managing federal land in Canada's capital region is apologizing for how it handled the issue of a child-run lemonade stand being run in Ottawa without a permit over the long weekend.

'Pretty cool, that lemonade stand,' NCC staffer told girls today. 'Sorry you guys had to close down early.'

Adela Andrews (left) and her older sister Eliza (right) were selling lemonade along Colonel By Drive until the National Capital Commission shut them down for failing to have a permit. The NCC apologized on Monday. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

The federal body responsible for developing Canada's capital region is apologizing for how it handled a child-run lemonade stand being run in Ottawa without a permit over the long weekend.

Seven-year-old Eliza Andrews and her five-year-old sister Adela had set up their stand on a grassy median between Echo Drive and Colonel By Drive on Sunday. But an NCC conservation officer told their father Kurtis Andrews they needed a permit to operate there.

Kurtis Andrews said he thought the move was "an overreaction."

"He was very polite and very respectful but at the same time made it clear that if we didn't leave we could be subjected to charges," said Andrews.

Andrews took his children to the National Capital Commission office on Monday to apply for a permit, where NCC spokesman Nicholas Galletti apologized.

"Pretty cool, that lemonade stand. Very cool," Galletti told the girls. "Sorry you guys had to close down early."

"It's all right, we understood," Kurtis Andrews replied. "There's rules for these things, so, yeah."

'This is something we want to encourage'

Galletti said the conservation officer acted in good faith to enforce the rules, but said it could have been handled differently.

"There are processes that are in place but that is not something that should stop something that is really a fun and summery activity," he said.

"We want to animate our shorelines and our green spaces in the capital so it does make for a more vibrant and lively capital so this is something we want to encourage going forward," Galletti said.

Kurtis Andrews said he thought the officer should have exercised some discretion and said if the rules were applied by the letter of the law his children wouldn't be able to sell from their driveway either, since his home is not zoned for commercial uses.

"It just didn't seem right, it didn't seem to fit the situation," Andrews said.

The NCC has also offered to help expedite the permit process. Andrews said he believes the current permit system was not meant to apply to children.

"It's obvious from the application that the system is not designed for these circumstances. For instance, they are asking for a site plan to be submitted and there may even be a request for insurance. So we'll see what happens," he said.

Simplify permit system, dad says

The section of Colonel By Drive where the stand was set up is part of the more than 50 kilometres of National Capital Commission parkways shut down to traffic on Sundays from May to September in favour of pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers.

The girls made $52 — including tips on their $1-a-glass lemonade — in less than two hours.

Andrews said he'd like to see more clarity on what is and isn't possible.
  
"I think that they should think about what they want to do with the bikeways and what's the spirit of it," Andrews said.

"If it requires a permit? Fine. But at least make the process easier so they can apply for it and get it and it's not going to cost $35, which is going to be a severe dent in their profit margin for sure."

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