Flower shop owner wants Saanich to allow roadside stand to continue
Published Saturday, April 25, 2020 6:11PM PDT Last Updated Saturday, April 25, 2020 7:14PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Colleen O'Farrell's flower business wilted because of COVID-19, but the Saanich resident says it's a district bylaw that's preventing the business from blooming again.
Normally, O'Farrell runs Foxgloves Flowers from a private studio in her backyard, taking orders by phone and internet and providing flower arrangements for weddings and corporate events.
That business largely dried up when physical distancing rules put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of many of the events O'Farrell would have served.
"Out of sheer desperation and wanting to keep the shipment of flowers that I had out of the compost bin, I borrowed my son's lemonade stand and put bouquets out on the street," O'Farrell told CTV News Vancouver Island.
She started by giving most of the flowers away, but soon people were stopping by to place orders and asking for things other than what had been put out.
"It just snowballed from there," O'Farrell said.
Neighbours began stopping by for flowers on a regular basis, and soon, O'Farrell's business had picked back up.
That's when Saanich bylaw officers stepped in. Acting on a complaint from a neighbour who wasn't pleased with the business operating on a residential street, the district ordered O'Farrell to shut down.
"It's just devastating to me that in this time of economic struggle where a small business is having to pivot and change and find new business models that they would shut down a simple farm stand," O'Farrell said.
Now, she and her friend Katherine Little, who had her jam stand in Saanich shut down last year for similar reasons, are hoping to get the Saanich District Council to amend its bylaws to allow for roadside stands on private property.
"We just want our stand back," Little said. "We want it for our neighbourhood. We want it for our neighbours. We want it for the community."
When they speak to the council, Little and O'Farrell will bring with them a petition that has gathered more than 600 signatures from people who would like to see the stands allowed to continue operating.
"Whether it's jam or flowers or apple pie, it's time we all stepped up," Little said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver Island's Eric Lloyd