Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Letter of The Day - Minister Furey

Today I received permission from Mark Furey, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Business,  to share this e-mail that was sent to me.  It is clear and concise and sometimes credit needs to be given where credit is due.  Thank you, Minister Furey.

Ms. Anna Shoub
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


Dear Ms. Shoub:

Re: Challenges Facing Home Based Business in Lunenburg and Rural NS

I am writing in response to your e-mail dated May 29, 2015 regarding challenges as a small business owner in Lunenburg and rural Nova Scotia and your request for assistance.

The issue you have raised falls within the responsibility of the municipality.  Municipalities are responsible for the enforcement of the Building Code, land-use or zoning by-laws within their respective jurisdictions.  Therefore, they have the authority to interpret the application of the Building Code, land-use or zoning by-laws in line with the policy or vison of the municipality on the particular topic or issue.

The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has the overall responsibility for the Nova Scotia Building Code and Regulations.  I am pleased to advise you that the OFM is working on a review of the operation of small businesses within a residence as a result of recent differences of Code interpretation.  The OFM recently took the matter to the Nova Scotia Building Code Advisory Committee (the “Committee”). This Committee is establishing a working group to further review this particular issue to see if there is merit in providing some regulations to establish clarity and consistency for home businesses throughout the province.

Should you wish to make a presentation to the working group, please contact Mr. Joe Rogers, Building Code Coordinator with the OFM at (902)-424-5721 or by e-mail at

Our government is committed to reducing red tape and would consider recommendations by this Committee including proposed regulations which would establish clarity and consistency for home businesses throughout the province.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention.

Yours truly,

Originally signed by

Mark Furey
cc:       Rachel Bailey, Mayor, Town of Lunenburg
Harold Pothier, Fire Marshal
Joe Rogers, Building Code Coordinator

So, what does this mean you ask?  Here is my interpretation and a few other people I have shown this to seem to have deduced the same. 

The Town of Lunenburg does not need permission from the province to fix this problem.  Since they are responsible for  both zoning  and the Nova Scotia Building Code and the application of both needs to be in line with their own Municipal Planning Strategy  (that's the town's policy)  then all they have to do, today if they chose to, is to properly manage their building inspector to apply the building code so that it is in line with their own policy.
Here's the Policy:

and more Policy

and even more policy

 and here's the Land Use Bylaw.  That's the document that carries out the policy.  You can see me in there so neatly.  I'm the one about craft workshops and then you can see how (e) explains that I can only sell what I make.  Check.

So, there we have it.  Simple, right?  The town of Lunenburg can now easily align their views with the other municipalities in Nova Scotia, like HRM,  that understand  Home occupations are accessory uses to a home not requiring a change of use because they have now been given express permission from the province to do so.  Wrong.  Why?  I, honestly couldn't begin to hypothesize.  It truly stumps me why something so simple should be made so complicated, but two days ago I got this in the mail from the town.  It is a copy of a small book that was sent to the minister regarding my case.  Even though the mayor was copied on the e-mail above and even though it must be clear from our own Municipal Planning Strategy that it is not possible to classify my craft workshop where I sell only what I make as "Mercantile" or Commercial, the town continues to classify me this way.  The booklet has pages and pages of information justifying their building inspectors interpretation.

The town has now spent countless of our tax dollars on retaining legal council and  commissioning reports from their contracted employees and from town staff, instead of spending our hard earned money to simply fix it.  In this booklet, the town continues to insist that they are helpless and await an amendment in the Nova Scotia Building Code to proceed with progress.

Hope dies hard and I keep waiting for the town to simply see that they have made an error and be big enough to admit it and then we can just get on with our vision of making Nova Scotia the best place in the world, filled with artisans and young people and families that know they can support themselves.  But, if this booklet is any indication, I don't think it's going to be that easy, so I will address this provincial panel and be a voice for home based businesses in Nova Scotia because I don't want any other person that comes after me to ever have to go through this hell.  If the province can do something, anything, from their end to ensure that individual municipalities can only see home based businesses as just that, businesses in a HOME with only code that applies to a home being applied then it simply has to be done.

And in the mean time, I need your help.  Send me your letters and I will post them here.  Speak up!  People are afraid of retribution.  I get it.  But there is strength in numbers. This is an opportunity for your voices to be heard.  In the past day, two quotes from Ghandi appeared in my life.  Heck, sometimes you gotta take those signs when they are given to you.  The first, "When the people lead, the leaders will follow." and "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

I know I have made some enemies in this town.  That sucks.  Really......I like people.  This kind of confrontation is not fun for me.  Someone said to me the other day, "be careful or you will really piss off council."  The thing is, as much as I may like individual councilors or administrators or building officials, my allegiance is not with them as individuals.  My allegiance is to this beautiful province and to other artisans and small business owners like myself who often get the short end of the stick.  So, I hate that there are hurt feelings, but I think we all need to get over ourselves and just do the right thing.

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