Orono, ON: Due to an anonymous zoning complaint filed with the local municipality, husband and wife bed-and-breakfast proprietors Marta & Lech Jaworski may be forced to pay as much as $50,000 in fines for permitting their son, Peter, to use his family’s property to host the Liberty Summer Seminar, an annual seminar in support of liberty.
The Liberty Summer Seminar is a non-profit event for like-minded students and individuals hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies, a registered charity in Canada.
Over the weekend of July 25, the LSS celebrated its tenth anniversary with a two-day event on the Orono property. On Sunday afternoon, as the event was wrapping up, a municipal law enforcement official arrived without notice in the car parking area. He quizzed a passing LSS participant about the event, asking him what had been served for lunch, as well as the cost of the registration fee, and the number of port-a-potties available. After a few minutes, the official left without attempting to speak to the Jaworski family
On August 12th, Marta and Lech Jaworski were each served with a summons to appear in court on the grounds that they had “allowed the use of land in an agricultural zone for a use other than a permitted residential use; namely for a commercial conference centre,” which is contrary to Clarington by-laws.* A first offence carries a maximum penalty of $25,000 upon conviction.
“The municipality tells me that they work on a complaint basis,” said Peter Jaworski, “although I don’t believe any of our immediate neighbours complained, since we’ve been doing this for nine years without a single complaint or problem, and being very public about it.”
A sad tale of bureaucracy gone mad and jack-booted thugs and etc. The Star gives the Jaworski's some sympathy. Dawg too thinks that something must be done.
OK, but I'm not there yet. For one thing, the Liberty Summer Seminar was not like a casual get-together of bloggers--it was, in particular, not a one off. Willow Pond offers to host events of a similar size on an on-going basis. Here's a screen-cap of the relevant page:
So, while the Liberty Summer Seminar may have triggered this particular complaint, it looks like you could make a good argument that, between April and October 15 of every year, the facility is indeed being operated as a "commercial conference center", contrary to local by-laws.
So, again, for the moment I am suspending my outrage.