Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dear Government of Nova Scotia

Dear Government of Nova Scotia,

I think I really need you to step in now.  I'm in over my head.  Today the phone rang.  Again.  Under normal circumstances this would not put me in a state of panic, but ever since going public with my concerns regarding the red tape that home based businesses are facing in Lunenburg and other parts of rural Nova Scotia, I have become something of a receptacle for really sad stories of lives ruined and dreams dashed in our province.
The word has got out that I understand why commercial building code does not apply to home based businesses in municipalities with Land Use Regulations.  People  being told by the town of Lunenburg that they need to do extensive renovations to their homes are turning to me for guidance.

So, I picked up the ringing phone and the call was from a young woman wanting to put an offer on a home in Lunenburg.  I won't tell you her name publicly, but will be happy to share the information with you privately.  She is a professional.  The business she wants to establish here will be a great service to the entire South Shore of NS.  Our Development officer confirmed that her business falls within our Land Use Regulations.  She asked the building inspector to look at the home she wants and he told her that she should be sure that whichever home she buys can accommodate his lengthy list of renovations.  She is confused.  She called me to ask if what the building inspector said was correct.  No, he is absolutely incorrect.  She was planning to put an offer on this house tomorrow.  Can she go ahead and do this?  What in Heaven's name can I say to this poor woman?  This is too much pressure for me.  I hung up the phone and cried.

Dear Government, can I please remind you what it is I do for a living?  I make hats.  They are really nice hats, but that doesn't really give me the authority to tell this poor woman to invest her life savings into this province when there is no guarantee that any of her elected officials are going to stand up for her rights and ensure that she is not made to tear her house apart to construct a commercial occupancy in a residential zone where no commercial occupancies are permitted.

It's been two months now since I presented before the Building Advisory Committee.  Everyday, I think today is the day that my government will take this responsibility off my shoulders.   I know, I know, nothing moves quickly in politics, but here's the thing- That information that I shared with the Building Advisory Committee is so completely understood in this whole continent.  It's the same everywhere.  It's the most basic of basic concepts.   We don't need to reinvent the wheel.  But don't take my word for it.  Please pick up the phone and talk to a very nice man named Jim Donovan.  Do you know him?  He is the manager of municipal compliance for the Halifax Regional Municipality.  He really knows what he is talking about.  Anything to do with building or planning goes through him.  He is even one of the authors of The National Building Code.  He's very patient.  He has answered 6,753 of my questions in the past year.  There's another nice lady that works with him that is the manager of development approvals.  She'll help you, too.  These people really care about this province.

Please, I am losing it, here.  The people of Nova Scotia elected you guys to do the right thing on our behalf.  They didn't elect me.  I simply can't do this anymore.  It's not my job.  I am not in a position of authority.  If any of the information I shared is confusing just call Jim.  He'll help.  That's what he does.

Thanks so much,

The Hat Junkie

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