Ottawa bureaucrats shut down children's lemonade stand

Eliza Andrews, 7, and her sister Adela, 5, set up a lemonade stand to earn money for summer camp.  They had been selling lemonade for $1 a glass from their front lawn for a couple of weeks, but then, like true entrepreneurs, they decided to change the location in order to increase their sales.

That's where they went afoul of Canada's bureaucrats.  They set up shop on federal land, which means they needed a permit.  Some passerby apparently snitched, because before too long, an agent working for the National Capital Commission showed up and shut them down.

It was headline news across the country.  But the little girls and their father are having trouble with the byzantine paperwork they have to complete in order to get the permit.

Guardian:

“They were polite, but said we had to pack up and leave,” Kurtis Andrews, the father of the two girls, told the Toronto Star. His offer to pay for a permit on the spot yielded no compromise. “For a couple of kids, it’s kind of intimidating, with the flashing lights and guy in black uniform.”

First reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the story made headlines across Canada. Many on social media took aim at Ottawa – playfully rehashing the capital’s reputation as the “city that fun forgot” – while several Conservative politicians seized on the story as an example of how government overreach can strangle entrepreneurship.

On Monday, the Andrews visited the federal agency to apply for a permit. Perhaps conscious of the many who had framed the girls’ foray into Ottawa’s byzantine bureaucracy as a struggle of David against Goliath, an agency spokesperson apologised to the young entrepreneurs and offered to waive the C$35 permit fee.

In a later statement, the agency defended its earlier actions and made it clear that no exceptions would be made for the girls. “Given the location of the lemonade stand, the Conservation Officer acted in good faith in applying the federal land use rules in place.”

The situation could have been handled differently, it acknowledged. “Children’s lemonade stands are a time-honoured summer tradition that contributes to a lively capital and the NCC wants to encourage these activities whenever possible.” Officials said the girls’ permit application would be likely expedited so that they could have the stand up and running by this weekend.

The timeline was questioned by the girls’ father who pointed to the magnitude of paperwork being demanded for the stand. “The girls can’t provide proof of insurance. They can’t provide a site map. And so on and so forth,” he told CTV News. “So I expect that there’s going to have to be some ... modification of the normal bureaucracy here.”

In recent years, there has been an explosion of rules and laws requiring permits or licenses for just about anything.  The excuse is that regulating everything makes the public safer.  In fact, the rules are designed for the purpose of controlling people. 

The Obama administration has made it illegal for individuals to put on garage sales, fearing that some of the old consumer products being sold are unsafe.  Selling any food or drink without a permit (and a certificate from the local department of health) is also illegal. 

There have been millions of children over many generations who set up lemonade stands to earn a little summer cash.  Most of the time, the profits are drunk.  But the lesson in the value of a dollar and simple, basic business practices served most of us well later in life.

The government can't abide that sort of independence.  The means of control are applied whether you're 5 or 105.

Eliza Andrews, 7, and her sister Adela, 5, set up a lemonade stand to earn money for summer camp.  They had been selling lemonade for $1 a glass from their front lawn for a couple of weeks, but then, like true entrepreneurs, they decided to change the location in order to increase their sales.

That's where they went afoul of Canada's bureaucrats.  They set up shop on federal land, which means they needed a permit.  Some passerby apparently snitched, because before too long, an agent working for the National Capital Commission showed up and shut them down.

It was headline news across the country.  But the little girls and their father are having trouble with the byzantine paperwork they have to complete in order to get the permit.

Guardian:

“They were polite, but said we had to pack up and leave,” Kurtis Andrews, the father of the two girls, told the Toronto Star. His offer to pay for a permit on the spot yielded no compromise. “For a couple of kids, it’s kind of intimidating, with the flashing lights and guy in black uniform.”

First reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the story made headlines across Canada. Many on social media took aim at Ottawa – playfully rehashing the capital’s reputation as the “city that fun forgot” – while several Conservative politicians seized on the story as an example of how government overreach can strangle entrepreneurship.

On Monday, the Andrews visited the federal agency to apply for a permit. Perhaps conscious of the many who had framed the girls’ foray into Ottawa’s byzantine bureaucracy as a struggle of David against Goliath, an agency spokesperson apologised to the young entrepreneurs and offered to waive the C$35 permit fee.

In a later statement, the agency defended its earlier actions and made it clear that no exceptions would be made for the girls. “Given the location of the lemonade stand, the Conservation Officer acted in good faith in applying the federal land use rules in place.”

The situation could have been handled differently, it acknowledged. “Children’s lemonade stands are a time-honoured summer tradition that contributes to a lively capital and the NCC wants to encourage these activities whenever possible.” Officials said the girls’ permit application would be likely expedited so that they could have the stand up and running by this weekend.

The timeline was questioned by the girls’ father who pointed to the magnitude of paperwork being demanded for the stand. “The girls can’t provide proof of insurance. They can’t provide a site map. And so on and so forth,” he told CTV News. “So I expect that there’s going to have to be some ... modification of the normal bureaucracy here.”

In recent years, there has been an explosion of rules and laws requiring permits or licenses for just about anything.  The excuse is that regulating everything makes the public safer.  In fact, the rules are designed for the purpose of controlling people. 

The Obama administration has made it illegal for individuals to put on garage sales, fearing that some of the old consumer products being sold are unsafe.  Selling any food or drink without a permit (and a certificate from the local department of health) is also illegal. 

There have been millions of children over many generations who set up lemonade stands to earn a little summer cash.  Most of the time, the profits are drunk.  But the lesson in the value of a dollar and simple, basic business practices served most of us well later in life.

The government can't abide that sort of independence.  The means of control are applied whether you're 5 or 105.