City met with ‘worm family’ before media firestorm

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – In addition to a notice left in the family mailbox, Cornwall’s planning supervisor said there was a follow-up meeting with the Cadieux family before the ensuing media firestorm.

The family’s two sons – eight and ten-years-old – have been selling worms at their Second Street West home.

Their worm business included professional-looking signs on the front lawn of their home at the corner of Robertson Avenue.

The Cadieuxs received a notice Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. after a zoning inspector visited the home, acting on a complaint. The family was away in Montreal at the time. The notice stated their business did not comply with residential zoning, specifically with the commercial signs and commercial sales.

“What happened subsequent to that is the homeowner called our staff and then the staff person went to the home on Monday morning, as I understand it, and sat down and had a discussion with the family, just in terms of what the standards were and possible ways of meeting those standards,” Ken Bedford told Cornwall Newswatch.

The story didn’t hit the public until reports were published Monday afternoon.

Bedford said it’s legal to have a home-based business as long as it meets the criteria that protects the integrity of a residential neighbourhood, which includes signage and keeping the business indoors. “(They are) two of the things that seemed not to be followed.”

While Bedford said the department would respond to a land use complaint, the issue at Second Street West would have fallen under two bylaws – the comprehensive zoning bylaw and the signs bylaw.

“You don’t want a proliferation of signs in a neighbourhood…in a residential area.” The signs bylaw allows a small sign for your name but you can’t identify a home occupation.

He said the family could have also applied to the committee of adjustment for a minor variance to the rules.

“People have focused on the kids thing…but it’s a land issue that we have to look at and does it meet the standards of land use. It’s not a commercial area but residential area is trying to allow for a certain degree of family-run operations but we’re still respecting the residential character of those neighbourhoods.”

Similar communities in Eastern Ontario has similar rules when it comes to signs and municipal zoning requirements.

Councillor Justin Towndale has said he will be working to get the bylaw changed, which will likely come up at the next council meeting. Aug. 10.

The children are still allowed to sell – minus the signs – a setup that Towndale said in a Facebook posting “isn’t a perfect solution, but it is a temporary one…while we fix the problem.”

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