Unfair laws cannot be made fair simply by their non-enforcement.


From the...


Committee OKs bylaw against roadside selling

But farmers won't be harassed if safety no concern, official says

 

Carly Weeks

The Ottawa Citizen

 
Friday, June 10, 2005

A council committee passed a bylaw yesterday that makes it illegal for people to sell goods on public roads and sidewalks, but officials assured Ottawa farmers the new law will rarely be enforced in rural areas.

Jules Bouvier, project officer for bylaw services, said that even if farmers are selling on the highway "they will be tolerated if there's no safety concern."

According to city officials, the bylaw is necessary because the city has to come up with regulations that affect the entire amalgamated city. The city, said officials at yesterday's committee meeting, is not out to get the farming community.

Nonetheless, some farmers said they'd feel better if the city's pledge to let them continue selling produce at the side of public roads were put in writing.

 
 


"The bylaw to prohibit roadside selling is intended mainly to give the city the means to control street vendors in the downtown area."

                    
-
Jules Bouvier, project officer for bylaw services

 
 

"That's still a concern. It's not on paper -- that's the part that bothers us," said Andy Terauds, a Carp farmer who operates Acorn Creek Garden Farm.

The bylaw to prohibit roadside selling is intended mainly to give the city the means to control street vendors in the downtown area. But it's impossible for the city to make different laws for different parts of the city, said Mr. Bouvier.

People who sell fruit, vegetables and other goods at the side of rural roads will be allowed to continue doing so. The city will step in only if there's a complaint or safety concerns, such as if a person sets up a stall too close to traffic.

The bylaw is part of the city's effort to establish the uniformity of the regulations that applied in the municipalities that existed before amalgamation. While some of the former municipalities allowed people to sell produce at the side of the road, others didn't. The new bylaw will affect all areas of the new city.

However, there are some people who will be exempt from the bylaw, including those with a permit for a special event and vendors in the former city of Ottawa who have been granted a designated space permit.

Despite the uncertainty about enforcing the new bylaw, some rural residents acknowledge the city has made an effort to work with them.

"I think we're headed in the right direction," said Larry Shouldice, who operates Shouldice Farms.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005


EDITORIAL - Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton

June 10, 2005

Bylaw against roadside selling is unacceptable, probably illegal

Proves, once again, the need for local decision-making 

The Emergency and Protective Services Committee’s passage of a bylaw yesterday, making it illegal for people to sell goods on public roads and sidewalks, is simply not acceptable.

Any bylaw that dictates justification for universal rules to be followed ---then immediately declares unwritten exceptions to those rules--- is ill conceived and poorly executed.

While officials have assured farmers that the new law will rarely be enforced in the rural areas, unfair laws cannot be made fair simply by their non-enforcement. And, making a law that is meant to be broken most of the time is a completely unsound concept. Why not make a road vending bylaw that correctly reflects the respective differences between urban and rural, and be done with it?

 
 
There is a real issue as to whether this bylaw is legal, if it seeks to regulate established farm practice.

...Road side sales are an established farm practice relied upon by many food producers to supplement their incomes.

 
 

Let’s try to study the rationale for the bylaw, in the first place. (See wording of Bylaw) In its Executive Summary the Committee states that, “Uniform city-wide controls on the sales of foodstuffs and goods from highways are required to ensure public safety; vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow; and highway maintenance standards.”

The first problem, of course, is with the term, “uniform city-wide controls”. If roadside vending within the dense city core has different ramifications to that of a farmer selling fresh corn on an open roadside near Burretts Rapids or Kinburn, then the bylaw should reflect those differences. Dictating uniformity creates serious problems. One size does not fit all. Urban Ottawa and the annexed rural countryside also called Ottawa are entirely different entities. The city should respect that without causing harm to either group.

 
 
Currently-unregulated highway vendors are not suddenly going to explode in number, however, urban street vendors would increase dramatically if not regulated.

 
 

One also has to ask, “What is being controlled here?” If it is public safety, then it makes sense that a chip wagon on Wellington Street would have rather more stringent safety rules than the fruit and vegetable vendor on Diamondview Road who would also have safety precautions to follow, but less so, because without a curb there would be more setback room and more space for cars to park. Therefore, the public safety rules must be different, not uniform.

If it is the city’s intention to make street vendors in densely populated central Ottawa require a license and pay a fee, there may be a rationale for doing this to prevent having chip wagons on every corner, and to administer an orderly street vendor program. But rural vendors are far-and-few-between, and should not require any such licensing or administration fees. Currently-unregulated highway vendors are not suddenly going to explode in number, however, urban street vendors would increase dramatically if not regulated.

BYLAW NOT LEGAL?

There is a real issue as to whether this bylaw is legal, if it seeks to regulate established farm practice. Section (6) of The Farming and Food Production Act provides that, "No municipal bylaw applies to restrict normal farm practice carried on as part of any agricultural operation".

Road side sales are an established farm practice relied upon by many food producers to supplement their incomes.

The bylaw would have to be challenged if Council tries to pass it.

As with so many other differences between urban and rural life, some sort of local rural governance structure, (i.e.: borough system), to deal with matters that are distinctly rural would solve this and all other like problems, permanently, for everyone.

Imagine how much simpler matters would be for Council as a whole if rural vegetable stands, rural fire burning permits, rural community hall management and volunteer staffing, and a host of other internal rural matters, could be handled in the rural area –as they always have been in the past, (prior to the curse of amalgamation).

The Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton - June 10, 2005
 
 

Previous related story

May 27 - 2005   Farmers, city hall clash over selling roadside produce - The Ottawa Citizen

 
 

 

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