Controversial salon will stay open
Iqaluit council belatedly approves home-based business on Tundra Ridge
Angry citizens and supportive neighbors packed the seats at City Hall on Tuesday night to air their opinions on a salon, tanning and massage business that’s causing controversy on Tundra Ridge.
Carol Collin has been operating Carol Satin Care Studio out of House 2628 on Nanuq Drive since mid-April.
But thanks to an error of omission made by a city worker, Collin was operating without the approval of City Hall.
Collin had applied for her business license in May of this year. When she went to pick up the license, she learned that the economic development officer who had handled her application was no longer working for the city.
A staff member, less familiar with business licensing, handed her the license, but did not tell her that she had to apply for a development permit to operate a home business in a residential area that relies on trucked city services. That permit is subject to the approval of council.
City staff learned about the business through a half-page ad published in this newspaper on Nov. 12, and contacted the salon immediately.
“Collin was in our office within the hour,” said Michele Bertol, the city’s director of lands and planning.
But several neighbours also learned about the business through the ad, and the grand opening event that was being advertising for the following Saturday.
At the council meeting, some of these people took the opportunity to complain about traffic generated by the new business.
Frank Rizzi, who lives directly across the street from the business, said that he now has to “zig-zag through cars with the toboggan” to take his two children, both under the age of two, for walks, and he complained about the scale of the business.
“This, according to me, is not a home-based business, but a business-based home,” he said.
Frank Cunha, another neighbour, appeared with a petition and read from a written statement. He later passed around two photos showing cars parked outside of the business.
A friend of Collin rose to point out that the salon had been in business for seven months, serving 75 customers per week, and that nobody had complained about the traffic before.
“Is there more traffic because there was an ad in the newspaper?”
Debbie Purchase, who runs her own salon in Iqaluit, made the most convincing case, pointing out that she welcomed competition, but only if it was subject to the same commercial rates that she pays for electricity and water.
Councillors listened attentively to these concerns, but focused more of their attention on the bylaws governing the application.
Anyone wanting to operate a home-based business in this zone must comply with eight conditions that set limits on the number of employees, the amount of water the business can consume, and parking spaces, as well as the disturbance caused to neighbors.
One of those conditions also stipulates that the business must not take up more than 25 per cent of the home, or exceed 40 square meters of floor space.
Carol Satin Care Studio occupies four rooms in the bottom of the house, and is slightly larger than 40 square metres. Collin was not aware of this rule when she set up her business.
When Collin, a tiny, tanned woman with bright red hair, finally appeared, Councillor Glenn Williams asked her several pointed questions, including what she would do if the application was turned down.
She calmly explained that she had started her business part-time, and had continued to work for First Air until two weeks ago, when she quit her job to work full-time at home.
Williams then asked her what she would do if she was forced to shrink her business to fit within the letter of the law.
She said that she could do this.
A motion was swiftly passed to allow the business to operate with several conditions, designed to limit the size to which the operation could grow. Among these are a three-vehicle limit for parking, a maximum of one water truck delivery per day, and a limit of two employees.
Councillor Simanuk Kilabuk commended Collin on her new business.
“I envy the business owner. If I was attempting to start a new business, this is the sort of approach I would take, to try to get over the bureaucratic nature of the rules.”