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Entrepreneur frustrated home-based business shut down because of township bylaw

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Severn Township resident Stephanie Dell is frustrated the pet care and dog sitting business she ran out of her home was shut down in January because of a bylaw requiring her to have a kennel licence.

Under the existing bylaw, residents are prevented from receiving payment for such services without a permit, and kennel licences are only issued to businesses on land designated as rural or agricultural. Dell's home is on land designated as residential.

"As a young person who's taken that leap of faith into starting a business, I feel like I am blindfolded and running an obstacle course," Dell said.

Severn Mayor Mike Burkett shed light on the nuances of the bylaw, emphasizing that accepting payment for pet sitting triggers the requirement for a kennel licence, as outlined in the town's official plan.

Burkett said people can walk others' dogs for profit without a licence and offer services at other dog owner's homes, but they cannot transport the animal to their property without a licence.

The mayor said the town could consider amending the official plan, but admitted that it could take years.

"Maybe we have to start thinking outside the box, but that's a planning process that we need to do, and we will undertake, but staff needs to come back with a report with how do we move forward with this and involve everyone in the township," the mayor said.

Councilor Wanda Minnings echoed the need for public consultation in decision-making processes.

"I think, as a council, we need a balanced response and information so that we can make the best decision going forward," Minnings said.

Despite the setback, Dell remains resolute in her pursuit of business opportunities. She intends to refocus her efforts on alternative aspects of her business, such as dog walking, while actively seeking avenues to obtain a kennel licence for her residential property.

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