Saturday, January 9, 2016

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions - My Presentation, The Finale

Here is the final part of the presentation that I gave to the Building Advisory Committee, who will be making recommendations to our Provincial government, so that interpretations of how the building code applies to home based businesses can be unified and clarified across Nova Scotia.  (I think that may have been a run on sentence.)  As usual, I have a few additional things to say that were not said at the presentation.  Just scroll down to the purple words for the less filtered version.

Presentation - The Finale


I would like to present you with three possible solutions to clarify how land use informs the code, but I will make no secret that I am advocating for the third one.

Solution one is a recommendation of your committee to simply advise municipalities that Home Occupations, where permitted by bylaw are considered to be a part of the main residential use.    This solution may work for the short term, but ten years down the line home occupations may find themselves facing the same challenges.  Just eight years back, in Lunenburg,  Home Based Businesses were not asked to make unnecessary changes to their homes, but since there was no formal policy to allow Home Occupations to prosper, this informal understanding was lost. 
 Solution two is to amend the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations to clarify that Home Occupations where permitted by bylaw are a part of the main residential use.     As we know, there is a huge bureaucratic process and undertaking required to change the law, the technical criteria in that process further complicates the outcome and the outcomes are rarely perfect.    This process can take years and in the mean time, businesses will suffer.  If we understand the urgency of the words Now or Never, this is not the ideal solution.

  The Proposed  Solution
 The solution I would like to propose is to add explanatory material to the appendix of the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations that informs building officials as to the function of land use when regulating Home Occupations. 
This solution would guide building officials when land use bylaws are present, but would also assist a building official to understand Home Occupations in a municipality where there are no land use provisions.
This solution is simple, inexpensive and would come into effect sooner than a technical amendment.
When it is understood that land use informs the Building code then we know that there is no need to amend the code.  There is nothing wrong with the code.  Our land use bylaws are fine.  We simply need explanatory material in the appendix to assist our building officials.    

Possible Example of Explanatory Material – Where land use provisions permit home occupations within a regulatory framework (i.e.: technical considerations as in….area limitations, use limitations, employee limitations, parking and signage) they shall be considered exclusively residential uses.

I would like to conclude with a portion of a letter I received from Erin Donovan,  a professional musician with Symphony Nova Scotia.  She teaches music from her home in Mahone Bay and her husband has a recording studio, also from their home.  
“Rural Nova Scotia is full of imaginative, creative artists who are finding ways to make a modest living at home, making this area an attractive tourist destination, providing a richness to our culture and also showing our youth that you can make it work here despite the lack of available jobs if you have an imagination and some creativity.  These small businesses are vital to our community and reflect the kind of place I want to live with music studios, ceramics studios, hat shops, art galleries etc. We NEED to encourage these types of businesses if we want to keep our small towns vital and diverse.
We need to ask ourselves what kind of community we want to live in? Is it one with hat-makers, ceramic artists, painters, writers and musicians, music and art teachers for our children to learn from? If so, then we need to ask ourselves are we making it easier or harder for these independent business owners to live here?
Anna's Notes:  I did not pull this information out of a hat.  (pun intended)  This is the culmination of almost two years of learning.  There were many experts that helped me.  They helped me out of a love for this province, out of a strong sense of ethics and maybe because I make a pretty good blueberry pie.
Throughout this whole process, I have been emotionally thrown between two extremes.  One has been gratitude, that I was given this opportunity to grow, meet great people,  learn, understand,  confront my fears,  see how much we can accomplish as individuals and last but not least, experience what a fabulous, supportive community we have in Lunenburg.   The other extreme has been outrage at the lack of true caring within our town council, anger for how I was treated, disgust at the actions that I have witnessed Lunenburg officials take in order to protect their image and silence any one else that they feared would show them in a negative light. 
I have said this many times, but this could have been resolved at a municipal level.  Had the town chosen to reach out to Halifax or any other place in Canada that understands the connection between Land Use and The Building Code, I could have made a lot more hats and spent a lot more time with my family.  But, self pity is not pretty, so I'm letting that go.  Click here to learn how Land use and the building code are connected. 
More than anything I want this information understood by all leaders in Nova Scotia.  It is simple and it will help us as a province.
CBC has been doing an incredible series this week called Rural Reckoning.  It is all about the challenges facing Rural Nova Scotia.   I have been glued to my radio, talking to my radio, saying, Yes!! We are finally talking about this.   Hope is in the air and I won't be shutting up any time soon. 

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