What to do if your business goes sideways: By-laws and politics in Oakville

Royal Treatment Pet Groomers
What to do if your business goes sideways: By-laws and politics in Oakville

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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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This past weekend there was a storm that brewed on Facebook about Royal Treatment Pet Grooming being ordered by Oakville By-Law Officers to vacate the premises in 60 days. According to the By-Law, a dog grooming business is and was not permitted at the location.

As you can imagine, the owner of the business, Lisa Fairweather was floored. She has been operating Royal Treatment Dog Grooming out of 1380 Speers Road for 18 plus years.

“I specifically asked by Realtor if my business was permitted for the unit,” she stated. “He indicated that there was no problem.”

Lisa Fairweather with white poodle

Lisa Fairweather was relieved after her councillors ensured that her business could remain.

The reality is that a dog grooming business was never permitted, but Oakville by-law officers don’t enforce the by-laws, unless someone complains. Well, last week someone commented on the legality of the business, and the by-law officers did what they are charged to do which is to enforce the by-law.

“This spot is extremely important to my business. People have been coming to me for years, and there is excellent parking for my clients. If I had to move, I could loose some of my clients.

“The town has been giving me sign permits for years, I don’t know how this could have happened,” Lisa continued.

Lisa’s first spoke to the By-Law office at Town Hall. They re-iterated that there was nothing that could be done, and she would have to move. Then she did what a number of business owners would do, and vented on Facebook.

However, there are a number of steps that Lisa could have taken before heading to social media. The first was to speak to her local councilors. By-laws are passed by town council, and therefore can be amended by council if necessary.

Once Cathy Duddeck and Ray Chisholm, the two councillors that represent Lisa heard of the problem, they went straight to work. The Mayor was contacted, and the by-law order to vacate the property was put on hold. The Mayor has several options at his discretion. The By-Law as it relates to this business will be changed in order to allow Royal Treatment to stay where it is.

The other option that Lisa could have used was to contact the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, whose mandate is to support local business. John Sawyer, the President had this to add, “businesses can and do reach out to us and we can direct them to where they can find the people who can help”.

So why is there a concern about using social media regarding this negative business issue? It accomplished what Lisa wanted. Her business is safe, and the problem was resolved.

The main reason is that though people mean well, if they don’t know how to fix the problem, they often just feed the fear; and that is exactly what happened to Lisa. She was served the papers by the By-Law Officer on Thursday, and on Saturday the councillors found out, but where not able to officially address the issue until Monday. So for four days, she was left reading different people’s comments about how the town would never help her. Even though several people and Town Councillors indicated that they would in fact help her. She could have saved herself a great deal of grief and pain.

The other reason that using social media to address a negative business issue, can give the perception that Oakville does not create a positive business environment. In this case, the end result demonstrates that councillors and the mayor care very much about the health and vitality of business in Oakville.

So if you find your business going sideways because of a by-law or political change, reach out to your elected officials and organizations that are there to support you. You’ll likely save yourself a great deal of grief, and if they don’t or can’t help, then by all means use social media to bring your issue to the public’s attention.

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