When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade
Ottawa is currently all a buzz with the latest piece of cuteness vs the political system in the form of the time honoured tradition of the child lemonade stand (see CBC article here). While it is very easy to come down on the woman that “tattled” or the NCC Officer that asked the kids to “move along” the point of fact is that the Officer in question did the right thing for the right reasons.
I have previously been a member of Scouts Canada for close to 30 years. I fully get the parent’s arguement that this is a learning opportunity for his children. I myself have cut lawns, shoveled snow, fundraised for school trips and national jamborees. There is nothing wrong with conducting these types of activities. The fact that the parent is taking an active interest in promotion of his children’s self-efficacy and self-reliance to do these types of activities is great.
On the other hand, it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that such activities occur in an environment suitable for such purposes.
As part of coordinating for Boy Scout Apple Day – we would never have just shown up at a retail outlet without first asking permission. Similarly, if the father wanted to set-up shop beyond the confines of his property he should have, in all reasonableness, checked with BOTH the City and the NCC before setting up shop where he did.
That is the fault of the parent, not the children. The fact that a lot of people in the city are taking side with the kids is simply a knee jerk reaction to the points that a) the kids are cute, b) its for a good cause, c) it harkens back to a nostalgic tendency which no longer really exists in our city any more. Everything about it screams peaches and cream on the surface.
I think 99% of the city would have simply given them a pass on the whole venture if it was a one-off. However now that it is front page news, there are likely to be several hundred vultures out there waiting to see what the reaction is by the NCC and the City in order to game the system for allowing more commercial sales.
Our city parks and bicycling pathways are there for the enjoyment of the city, not as another avenue for commercialism. That is one of the things that makes Ottawa and our walking / cycling pathways special. It is not unreasonable to require people to apply for a permit to use city or NCC properties for purposes for which they were not originally intended.
At the same time, those bureaucracies should not put restrictions for things such as fundraising for school, sports, or social programs / clubs so out of reach that there isn’t some latitude for a father and his kids to set-up a lemonade stand on occasion.
In my view, the father was clearly in the wrong here and the NCC Officer should not be admonished for doing their job. At the same time, my fear is that because of the “cuteness” of the situation the City / NCC may open the doors to an opportunity that threatens what makes this city special. If it were me – I’d be looking to fix the permit system, not haggling over whether the median is City or NCC property.
Unfortunately, most fixes for these types of things focus on the symptoms, not the root cause as has been the case with the NCC apology to the family in question here. The apology doesn’t address the real problem but instead provides a type of non-answer to the situation while at the same time trying to make it look as if the NCC is sensitive to the assault on traditional family values that has gotten everyone worked up.
Sure, every situation could have been handled better. No other special interest group would have been treated differently, nor would they have an expectation to have been treated differently. Why this family deserves an apology for expecting special status in circumventing processes that every other k-12 school, youth program, and youth sporting organization knows is the appropriate mechanism to conduct these types of events is beyond me.
— Kevin Feenan