Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Save The Willow Pond Bed and Breakfast?

Dawg and a few others have written about the sad plight of the Willow Pond Bed and Breakfast, owned by the Jaworski's, parents of the Western Standard's Peter Jaworski. The official version of the story runs as follows:

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.

Update: Here.


Dr.Dawg said...

You have a good point, and in this respect, at least, I stand corrected.

But even with the revised narrative, what real harm is being done by the Jaworskis? It's not as though they are turning their farmland over to the developers.

bigcitylib said...

That touches maybe on the whole notion of "what good is the by-law", not "are they breaking the by-law"?

In any case, if they've been offering these services for any length of time (and it isn't clear they have been--the property went from being Hillside Estates to a Willow Pond franchise last year, I think) then a complaint from a neighbor was probably bound to come, and should have been anticipated.

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...
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Dr.Dawg said...

According to Peter J., the place has hosted these "Liberty Seminars" for the past nine years.

bigcitylib said...

Yeah. Hillside Estates was at the same place,

...and that's where they had the LLS. But it doesn't look like they offered additional largish corporate stuff until they went to a Willow Pond franchise in '09. That plus any corporate events they might have hosted might have brought the municality down on them, or a neighbors complaint. Maybe they'd be willing to put up with a big annual picnic type thingy, but if its going on for 6 months of the year, who knows?

Jon Dursi said...

I'm kind of with BCL on this. The question remains whether or not this is bylaw is a good policy, but that's the local municipality's decision to sort out, and doesn't really involve those of us living outside of Clarington (unless of course the bylaw violates the Municipal Act, which seems unlikely).

Bylaws like this are something you need to know about if you're running a business in the community. If they just weren't aware of it before, well, then maybe you should be more aware of the business regs in your community. Yes, there might be more than you think is helpful, but your local community has implemented every one of them for some reason.

It would be one thing if some evidence was being offered that the bylaw was being selectively enforced, of course, but I don't think anyone's made that case.

So, yeah. Apparently Clarington wants to protect agricultural land in their community from being bought up and used as commercial space. Good idea? Bad idea? Who knows, but that's the local community's call. Maybe the municipality should have let them off with a warning the first time; but yeah, learn the rules of your buisness or hire a lawyer.

Paul S said...

It’s an outrage that we’re hosting an event celebrating the freedoms we have in Canada, that we didn’t have in (communist) Poland from which my family fled, and the municipality decides to stomp down on my parents,” - Peter Jaworski

Oh give it a break. Does this guy complain like this when he gets a parking ticket too?

It is a feeling to be hunted. They come in uniforms . . . ,” - Marta Jaworski

Hunted? Is this lady serious? Canadians deal with these kind of minor infractions all the time. I'd wager that at best she is facing a couple hundred dollar fine.

I read Dawg's over the top blog too. "Solidarity" and "shout-outs" over this non issue? LMAO! Too funny.

P. M. Jaworski said...

My parents' place used to be called Hillside Estates. One of our neighbours ran Willow Pond B&B. My parents have purchased the name from Lynn, the person who ran Willow Pond.

The website advertises services that Lynn used to provide.

Shoot me an email at, I'll send you my phone number, and we can chat and I'll tell you anything and everything you want to know.

Folks need to know much more from the story to understand why my mother would feel "hunted."

Paul S said...

I would like to be sympathetic Peter but the facts of the case don't appear to warrant it.

Bylaw infractions are a dime a dozen. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadians deal with bylaw infractions every day in this great country. It's no big deal.

Johan said...
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Sierramay said...

I think the decision of the court is justifiable enough. I thought it would only be a one time event for non-profit purposes.

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