The ins and outs of lemonade stand permits and licences

For two young girls, it was an unpleasant surprise when National Capital Commission officials shut down their lemonade stand on Sunday.

By Jacob Serebrin 

But if you wanted to open your own lemonade stand – and wanted to play by the rules – it might not be easy to figure out which rules to follow.

Eliza and Adela Andrews had their lemonade stand shut down by NCC conservation officer because he believed it was on NCC property, but the federal agency later told CBC that it actually wasn’t sure whether the median on Colonel By Drive was actually city land or NCC land.

It’s an important question because different rules apply on city land than on land managed by the NCC, which manages all federal property in Ottawa.

The NCC does have a map of its lands in the city. There, federal regulations apply.

In order to set up a lemonade stand on NCC land such as parks, parkways and other green spaces, written permission from the agency is required under those federal regulations.

The NCC does have a permit process for events as well as for land use, but neither one seems specifically intended for things such as lemonade stands.

The permit fee for events on the Colonel By Drive parkway is $1,520 for non-commercial events and $1,900 for commercial events.

However, those fees vary depending on the area and are significantly lower for public gatherings and picnics. A non-profit holding a picnic on NCC land, for example, only faces a $110 fee.

Those permits, however, are only good for one day.

There’s also a $35 application fee and applications for event permits go through a review period that takes “30 days for smaller events and 60 days for major events,” according to the NCC’s website.

A land access permit is required to conduct maintenance work or research on NCC land; use NCC land to “access private property for construction”; drive “a commercial vehicle on NCC parkways”; or “hold ongoing programs or activities” on NCC property.

Fees for those permits start at $300 and take five to 10 business days to review.

For land under the jurisdiction of the City of Ottawa, a lemonade stand would require a refreshment stand licence. Fees for that range from $214 to $784.

But in order to have a refreshment stand on city roads and sidewalks, a valid designated space permit is required.

Finding out how to get one of those permits is a little harder – there isn’t much information online about how to apply. However, annual fees for those permits started at $808 in 2013.

Still, those permits don’t really apply to a child’s lemonade stand; in order to apply for a refreshment stand licence, the applicant has to be at least 18 years old.