Seven-year-old Eliza Andrews, and her 5-year-old sister, Alexa, received an early lesson in bureaucracy when their lemonade stand in Ottawa, Ontario — Canada’s capital — was shut down by the National Capital Commission for not having a permit.
The girls were trying to raise money to attend summer camp.
“I felt sad because I like selling lemonade. It was really fun and there were lots of customers.”
According to a report from CBC, the Andrews sisters set up their lemonade stand on a median between Echo Drive and Colonel By Drive — part of a roughly 50 km stretch that is shut down to vehicle traffic during the summer — and were doing a fairly roaring business at $1 CAD per glass, plus tips. According to their father, Kurtis Andrews, the girls made $52 (about $40 USD) before officials struck.
Around 11 a.m., a woman stopped her bike, telling the girls that they weren’t allowed to be there. Their father wasn’t convinced — until a National Capital Commission (a Canadian government-owned corporation that administers federal land and buildings in Ottawa and Gatineau) officer arrived to confirm that the median was NCC property and that the girls needed a permit before any sales could be made.
Kurtis said that the officer was polite, if intimidating; he offered to pay for a permit on the spot, but was not given the option.
“He later sent me a map that appears to show that the property, all of that grassy median, belongs to the NCC and therefore we’re not allowed to be there without a permit.
“I think that they need to relax a bit. I understand that they have to manage their properties but at the same time we’re talking about a five and seven-year-old raising money for camp.”
Meanwhile, when contacted for comment, NCC spokesperson Cédric Pelletier was not actually able to confirm if the median was NCC property or not, but noted that he was looking into the matter.
“It could be NCC, it could be city property.”
Pelletier also confirmed that anyone conducting business on NCC property had to “go through our proper internal process” — even if they’re 5-years-old, apparently.
That internal process states that “no person shall sell or offer or expose for sale any drink, goods or wares, or post or display any signs, placards, flags or advertising devices, or solicit subscriptions or contributions on or in any property of the commission without first obtaining permission in writing from the commission to do so.”
In a sense, it’s a little odd when, according to CTV News, Ottawa holds a city-wide fundraiser every year called the Lemonade Standemonium wherein children are encouraged to operate lemonade stands across the city to raise funds for cancer research — and it’s expected to bring in over $60,000 CAD this year alone.
Kurtis Andrews said that, aside from helping them raise money for camp, the lemonade stand was educational for his girls.
“There’s lots of lessons to be learned there with multiplication and addition, as well as business. The money that they earn they keep, but they also have to pay for the expenses.” He added that he felt that their experience with officialdom had also been a learning experience.
“I can say with some confidence that they got an additional lesson today on business, at least in Ottawa here, and that’s a valuable lesson, too.”
Seven-year-old Eliza certainly seems to have taken that lesson to heart.
“I’m going to keep doing lemonade but maybe at our house.”
[Photo by martiapunts/Shutterstock]