Saturday, January 9, 2016

How To Discourage Entrepreneurs in Lunenburg

Our challenges…are imbedded in the very structure of the economy after decades of weak private sector growth and perhaps an over reliance on government….they are amplified by our lack of confidence and collective ambition to do better, and in our attitudes of mistrust and indifference with regard to the success of our entrerepreneurs.
-The Ivany Report
"Attitudes of mistrust and indifference with regard to the success of our entrepreneurs."  Those words ring so true as I witness the struggles that entrepreneurs face in Lunenburg and throughout Nova Scotia.  We as entrepreneurs are responding to the rallying cry of the Ivany Report.  Now or Never!   We have come here from other provinces, we are starting businesses, we have brought our children.  

Nova Scotia is filled with entrepreneurs facing challenges alone. The town does not help them overcome obstacles.  They place the obstacles in their way. Just for the record- Our building official classified Brad's shop as Light Industrial.  In a residential zone.  One cannot have a light industrial shop in a residential zone.  That is called a conflict of zoning.  Woodworking shops are permitted in the residential zones as Home Occupations in our land use bylaw.   The town puts their hands over their ears.  

The following letter is from Brad Quarrie, a young man that moved to Lunenburg from Ontario a few years back.  He moved with his lovely wife, Micheline and their three daughters. They have been beautifully restoring a heritage home.  These are the people we want in Lunenburg.  They care and invest in the town.  Yet, our local government could care less whether Brad succeeds or fails.  What a disgrace. 
Has anyone from the Town of Lunenburg ever reached out to Brad and his family to try to help them move forward?  The town is unconcerned.  

-Brad's Letter:
The Dream Remains a Dream

When my wife and I came to the south shore looking for a home, we looked at a number of houses, all with outbuildings. The plan was always to have a shop next to the house, I always have. So when we saw the house we live in now and it had a 1350 square foot outbuilding, it was pretty much a done deal. As far back as the story of 75 Dufferin Streetgoes, a carpenter lived there and had a shop on the premises. Could it be more perfect? Well no, not for the first few years.

Everyone knows that buying and owning an old house means a never ending to-do list of upgrades and maintenance. Our house is no exception, and the list is so long I won't even begin to get into it here. The point however, is that to restore an old house, one requires a shop, and I have one, it's in my coach house. I imagine there are more sheds, garages, and coach houses in this town with a workshop, than those without. This is after all a town of carpenters and crafts people, handy people, skilled people, people who love to work with their hands. This is what drew us to Lunenburg, that and the old houses.

As it turns out, like so many other home occupations, having a shop isn't the problem, it's using that shop for 10% of time for work. As a carpenter the majority of my work is done at the location of the house being restored or built, but occasionally there is a bit of work that requires stationery shop tools. So the question is, why wouldn't I use the shop and tools I already have to do that minimal amount of work, while also utilizing an existing historic structure?

As I have stated, my personal shop resides in my outbuilding, and has since the day we moved into our house. But, to do 'paying' work in there from time-to-time, I would be required to fireproof a wall, fireproof the floor, provide fire separation from the rest of the building (which is not living space), include a self-closing fire door, install an additional exterior door, an air filtration system, dust collection system and possibly (?) a bathroom. Also, the roof would have to be re-engineered to remove a beam that has been deemed a hazard due to its height. So in order to work in my coach house 20-30 days of the year, I would be required to make $35-40K in upgrades. Oddly, the soundproofing I'd planned for the space was not even mentioned. This is the point where it no longer made sense to proceed. A month of work is about $5K, a decent amount of money when you have three children, but not if all that income will go towards paying for renovations for the next 7-10 years.

So, What does one do with 1350 S.F. of space if not a business? I'm open to suggestions because we have five bicycles, a collection of garden tools, and some beach toys for the kids, leaving about 1200 S.F. of extra space.

It's been almost six years since we moved to Lunenburg, and for the time being, our Nova Scotia dream will remain just that, a dream.

Brad Quarrie,
Restoration Specialist


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