The National Capital Commission is allowing children to open a lemonade stand on Sunday Bikedays in Ottawa this summer, provided that the kids and their parents get a permit and agree to 15 separate conditions.
Last year, the NCC made headlines when it shut down a lemonade stand operated by two young girls. It later relented and let the stand open back up, with a permit. This year, they’re making the program official.
“Calling all Young Entrepreneurs!” reads a bulletin on the NCC website, inviting kids to set up shop on Sunday Bikedays – a popular local event where some roads are shut down Sunday morning to let families enjoy biking or walking along the Ottawa River and other scenic areas.
Kids between the ages of five and 17 are allowed to have a kiosk in certain locations along the bike route, provided they register with the NCC.
That registration form, also available on the NCC website, is three pages long and contains many conditions that the children and their parents must agree to.
- You must be sure that the beverage or other product you sell is safe for consumption.
- You must respect all laws and regulations while you are operating your kiosk. This includes federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations concerning, but not limited to, health and safety.
- If you post any signs on or near your kiosk, they must appear in both English and French (English first).
- You must agree to indemnify and save harmless the NCC, and anyone for whom the NCC is responsible, from all financial consequences, including reasonable legal fees, arising from any demands, claims or actions made or brought against the NCC, directly or indirectly, and resulting from the Activity. This clause shall survive the termination of this Permit.
The NCC also requires that kids report all revenue and donate at least seven per cent of it to charity. They strongly suggest that kids attend a workshop for young entrepreneurs at NCC headquarters.
“The conditions within the permit are fairly simple,” said Bruce Devine, senior manager for the NCC. “It’s all about safety and structure. If we’re to offer products to the people, customers, we just need to ensure a little bit of structure.”
This permit isn’t anywhere near as complicated as a regular business permit, he said. “We simplified the process a lot.”
Kurtis Andrews, whose six- and eight-year-old daughters Eliza and Adela operated the controversial lemonade stand last year, said they’re planning on doing it again this year – even if it means getting the appropriate permits.
“Your first reaction is, ‘Do we really need this sort of bureaucracy for children to do this sort of thing?'” he said.
But upon further reflection, he decided it wasn’t all bad. “One of our goals here was for the girls to learn about business, and I suppose getting approvals and bureaucracy is going to part of any business. So I guess it’s not a bad lesson for them in the long run if this is going to prepare them to be entrepreneurs one day.”
WATCH: Kurtis Andrews, whose daughters are planning to open a lemonade stand at an NCC event, talks about the upside of the permit process.
That’s part of the point, according to the NCC’s Devine. It’s meant to be an educational experience for children in setting up a business – and that includes the bureaucratic process. “I think it’s a great moment for the parent with the children to go through this and have a discussion and even explore what type of service they could offer on a Sunday Bikeday.”
The only part of the permit that bothers Andrews are the sections indemnifying the NCC. He doesn’t think that on the outside chance something goes wrong, legal liability should be resting on the shoulders of five- to 17-year-olds and their parents. “Obviously, the lawyers were here and had their input on it.”
“It’s a normal approach for a Crown corporation to do such a thing,” said Devine.
In the few weeks since the program was announced, he’s had several phone calls and two or three registrations so far. There was also a lot of interest at a kiosk set up at a recent local event, with a lot of parents grabbing copies of the registration form, he said.