Exemption proposed for temporary businesses; Cadieux family plans to step up action

Members of the Cadieux family of Second Street West in Cornwall, Ont. listen to members of the city's planning committee. The committee met Sept. 21, 2015 to discuss options for changing the zoning laws for home-based business. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The city’s planning committee will allow an exemption for lemonade stands, bake sales, yard sales and other infrequent activities.

But members of PAC wouldn’t go as far as allowing a whole sub-category for seasonal businesses, which could run a maximum of four consecutive months a year.

The exemption was one of three options presented to the Cornwall Planning Advisory Committee Monday night.

The Cadieux family of Second Street West, who found themselves in the national media spotlight earlier this year over their sons’ worm business, were the only people in the audience for the meeting.

A call from chairman Maurice Dupelle for public feedback produced no comments from the audience.

The topic was then up for councillors to debate.

“We don’t want somebody hammering around, being a mechanic in the back yard,” Coun. Andre Rivette said, siding with the exemption but still wanting worm sales in the mix.

Coun. Claude McIntosh says all the laws can been passed but enforcement is the problem.

“There’s no enforcement. Bylaw doesn’t work on weekends and police don’t want to enforce it,” he said. McIntosh says people are plastering signs on telephone poles but nobody is taking them down.

“It was the worm issue, as we call it, that brought this up,” Coun. Justin Towndale said, who leaned toward a sub-category of seasonal businesses but also an exemption clause.

Planning Supervisor Ken Bedford said the issue has been manageable since the bylaw was established in 1981.

“And now because of one issue you’re looking at changing the bylaw,” Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy retorted, suggesting the change would – open up a can of worms for other problems.

“We are not restricting anybody from selling worms 365 days a year,” Mayor O’Shaughnessy said. “This does not restrict people from having a lemonade stand on their property.”

Coun. Elaine MacDonald said she was comfortable with the exemption clause because it removes the ambiguity while not changing the zoning bylaw entirely.

“I’m the biggest fan of yard sales but if there was a yard sale next door to me for four months, I’d be looking to move,” MacDonald said.

The exemption does not change the rules for signs, meaning the Cadieux family would have to go to the committee of adjustment to have signs for their worm business.

At one point, Robert Cadieux – clearly upset at what was transpiring – made an out-of-order comment from the gallery, suggesting he would get the national media involved again if councillors didn’t get their house in order.

Chairman Dupelle discounted the comment saying it was a non-public portion of the meeting.

No change to signs

The planning committee also had the option of allowing a 12 inch by 24 inch sign on properties advertising businesses.

However, PAC decided to leave things as they are after Leslie O’Shaughnessy made a motion to make no changes.

The current law doesn’t allow signs that identify a home occupation.

PAC recommendation ‘ridiculous’: Cadieux

Outside the council chambers, shortly after the vote, Robert Cadieux said the decision affecting his sons’ worm business was “ridiculous.”

“Every single person that I talk to does not like what they are saying in there,” Cadieux said.

“You know what? Tomorrow I’m calling in CTV News, I’m calling in the (Ottawa) Sun, I’m calling in CBC News, I’ll call CFRA, I’m going to call everybody because there’s not one city that supports what Cornwall’s doing to these kids,” he said.

“What they’re doing…there’s no common sense being used,” Cadieux said.

He added that his family wasn’t going to get “shaken down by the mafia” when it came to paying $580 to a committee of adjustment to have signs to sell a couple hundred dollars in worms during the summer. “You might as well say, you can’t sell worms, kids.”

“I’m going to talk to our lawyer first thing in the morning and we might just keep our signs up and they can take us to court. They (councillors) didn’t even consider the fact it was kids,” he said.

Cadieux told Cornwall Newswatch “before all the media coverage we weren’t selling any worms…there was no traffic…hardly any sales at all” for their worm business until the national media attention.

“We’ve got people calling from every city in this area calling us and telling us what a bunch of arseholes the City of Cornwall is. You know…it’s going to get worse.”

“I brought my kids here tonight to show’em how the city works. Things can change…try and show them the good. But I don’t see much good when the mayor is talking like a fool.”

There’s no compromise: Coun. Towndale

“It sounded like a compromise but when you get in to the nitty-gritty of the actual terminology it’s not because it’s more just allowing the infrequent, temporary activities that were listed,” Towndale said.

The councillor says with no numbers quantifying “infrequent” or “temporary” it’s left to interpretation.

Towndale says it does clarify one point, which now allows people to sell on their property.

“You can be inside your house, selling anything, and (if) people don’t know you’re there, how you’re doing to do it? So this now enables people to sell…on their property…the land they own. So there is a bit of a change there.”

But when asked whether he condones the planned escalated actions of the Cadieux family, Towndale was matter-of-fact. “I don’t support breaking bylaws, no.”

When asked if children were being used as a wedge on this issue, Towndale responded “I think so, to a point. There are some people that believe the parents are using the kids to sell the worms. I don’t think that’s the case.”

Towndale says the issue affects more than one family. “It’s not just about the Cadieux family…there’s a greater issue, it’s not just one family.”

The recommendation passed Monday night is not binding as it still needs to be approved by city council.

With three councillors not at the table – Bernadette Clement, Brock Frost and Mark MacDonald – the debate may be reignited at the council table.

The next council meeting is next week (Sept. 28).

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