Misty Island Pizza owner Christine Lowrie spoke at the Port Clements council meeting Monday night (June 5), defending her business against some criticisms brought forward at the previous council meeting.
Ms Lowrie told council that her home-based business has no indoor seating except three stools at the counter for customers waiting for their take-out food or sitting while she fills out fishing licences.
She said her business licence allows her to sell “take out food and retail” and that she does not sell anything else.
“I don’t see what the problem is with my business,” she said. “I’m just here to see what’s next.”
At the previous meeting, council members had voted to write a letter to Ms Lowrie after reading two letters from local business owners who complained that she wasn’t sticking to the terms of her licence and was competing with businesses which operate in the commercial area and pay business taxes.
Ms Lowrie said that if council decided to strictly enforce every village bylaw that applies to her business, they should do the same to every business in Port.
“The bylaws are what govern council,” replied councillor Derek Hoenen. Mr. Hoenen temporarily chaired the meeting because mayor Cory Delves was away and acting mayor Casey Decock declared a conflict of interest in the Misty Island Pizza matter as she is a business owner herself.
Ms Lowrie left the council chambers after speaking, but that was not the end of the debate on this issue. Ray Decock, who owns the Yakoun River Inn, appeared and asked for permission to speak, which council granted.
Mr. Decock said the situation is of huge concern to him. He told council that when he started his business around 25 years ago, he jumped through every hoop to make sure it conformed with village bylaws, even buying more property at the last minute after he was informed he had to provide parking for his customers.
“I put my whole life savings into this,” Mr. Decock said. “She is doing conflicting business with mine. I put everything I had into my business, and now I am about two inches from receivership.”
Mr. Decock said he has spent millions of dollars on wages to Port residents, paid his taxes and made donations to local causes.
“We’ve been good business people,” he said. “I don’t feel that I should be run out of business… by what someone calls a home business out of her basement.”
Council members did not discuss the issue further that night, although members said they do plan to discuss it at a future meeting and come to a decision in the next month or so.
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