Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Presentation

Well, Folks, I did it.  I made a presentation before the Building Advisory Committee, who will be making recommendations to the province, so that Home Based Businesses in Lunenburg and other parts of Rural Nova Scotia can unwind themselves from Red Tape.  I survived.  I did not choke or faint.  I am here to tell the tale.  I think I did pretty well.  It seems the province wants to solve this issue and as long as we, as citizens of Nova Scotia continue to let the province know that we are waiting for the recommendations, I believe the issue will be solved.  Realistically, it will take a few months before these recommendations are released, so in the mean time I would like to educate you guys as to what I know.  In the past two years I have spent as much time learning about the relationship between Land Use and The Building Code  as I have spent making hats.  I am going to be sharing the presentation here.  It will take several posts as it was long.  Important information was lost and this is why Home Based Businesses have suffered.  Please take the time to read this.  This loss of understanding should never happen again.

Part one: Introduction

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to represent Home Based Businesses in Nova Scotia.  My name is Anna Shoub….
I moved to Nova Scotia seven years ago with my husband and then four year old son.  I brought with me an established business making and selling women’s hats both locally and internationally. I chose Nova Scotia for its beauty and the life style it offers.  I believed I would be able to run my business despite being in Nova Scotia.  It did not take me long to discover that my business would thrive because of being in Nova Scotia.  
When I found ladies occasionally wanting to visit my studio I took the steps to open my door to them.  My business is permitted by Lunenburg’s Land Use Bylaw as a Craft workshop where I can sell what I manufacture on the premises.   I applied for and received all the necessary permits.  Our building official visited my studio and gave me a very lengthy and prohibitively expensive list of renovations that I was told needed to be completed before opening.  I did not understand it at the time, but our building official was applying the Major/minor occupancy provisions of the code.  His decision was supported by our town.   After a year of trying to figure out how to proceed, I learned that the previous building official in Lunenburg did not apply these provisions.  He viewed a home occupancy to be a part of the main residential use.  I then discovered that all of HRM also understood a home occupancy to be a part of the main residential use.  I am a hat maker and my husband is a wood worker.  We did not have an extra $30,000 lying around to complete these renovations.  I had three options.  I could shut down, I could operate in non-compliance or I could seek out the understanding as to why HRM, Lunenburg’s past building officials and the majority of Canada understand that home occupations, where permitted by land use, do not need to be separated from the rest of the home.  For the past two years I have connected with many experts in HRM and in other provinces and this is why a hat maker can stand before you today and talk about the relationship between Land Use and the Building Code.
The Problem:
The Problem, as it relates to home business uses; 

Building Officials apply the major/minor occupancy provisions of code to homes where land use ‎regulations have identified them as exclusively residential.
That is the problem in technical terms.  
The problem as it relates to Nova Scotians:  The people that run businesses from their homes, typically artists, craftspeople, musicians, parents of young children,  grown children of elderly parents, people taking care of a disabled family member, new immigrants ,senior citizens,  and innovators who are rich in ideas, but not yet in capitol,  cannot afford the costly renovations being asked of them.  People are being prevented from supporting themselves and their families and from sustainably growing their businesses.
The problem in Provincial terms is we are discouraging the entrepreneurs we so desperately need here.  The young families we need to draw to this province will not have the means to do these changes to their homes.  We are stopping the incubation of business.  We are working against the recommendations of the Ivany Report.

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