It was pretty exciting news in Nova Scotia that that the building code will be amended, so that people can easily run businesses from their homes. This is great news for anyone living in a house. But what about people that don't live in houses? What about people that live in apartments. What about people that live in public housing? How does any of this happy news help them? The following line in El's poem stunned me, "And now new housing regulations say can’t have a business in the home So the little that we have we can’t even call our own" I understand from a land use perspective why this is so. Generally Home based business is allowed only in single unit dwellings. The planning logic is that as the density increases the likelihood of causing impacts from a home business increases. It all makes perfect sense if you are writing regulations with a full belly and a comfortable paycheck and twenty steps removed from the reality of poverty and violence and hopelessness. It makes sense if you live in a place where "protecting the integrity of a residential zone" means less noise, traffic, smell, signage or protecting your neighbours from the unsightliness of outdoor storage.
But what about when protecting the integrity of a residential zone means keeping guns out of your children's hands? Do any of these zoning rules make sense anymore? Does not allowing a woman to braid hair in her home or take care of the neighbours' children actually keep people safer in their homes? By taking away women's ability to lift themselves out of poverty by running businesses from their homes are we keeping the neighbours safe and peaceful?
This issue of working and living in an apartment unit is not a new one. We have come up with pretty solutions for white people. It's called live/work. It's the hippest thing in Vancouver. I think it even exists in Halifax. Can this zoning be applied to public housing? Could we, as a society, invest in building public housing units that can be used for live/work purposes? Could we change the zoning of current public housing to ensure that people can work from home? It's gotta be a whole lot cheaper than the cost of incarceration. We just love to throw around the word, Innovation. Well, Government of Nova Scotia, here's your chance to be truly Innovative. How are you going to fix it so that a woman in North Preston can make hats from her home? Go forth and Innovate. Put your lucky, well paid heads together and figure this one out. It's fixable.