Santa is complaining the Maple Ridge bylaws department has shut him down.
Don Taylor runs Santa’s North Pole Village at his home at 22395 124th Ave., where he lets families have photos with Santa sitting in his sleigh, check out his model North Pole village, and get a free stuffed toy.
Everything is done by donation, and proceeds to go the Chrysta Academy, which is a learning centre for children on the autism spectrum.
But this week Taylor has complained in social media that the city bylaws department has shut him down.
“They said I am running Santa’s Village as a business because I am accepting money,” he wrote on the Albion Neighbours Facebook page. “So I said I would not accept donations for my next opening, and then they said I could not just invite people to my house like that or let them on my property.”
The city bylaws department knows people are calling them Grinches online, but say this Santa has to take care of some red tape.
“We are keenly aware of the optics of this enforcement and while we understand the spirit and noble intentions of the charity effort, we have an obligation to act when a person is violating city bylaws,” said Michelle Orsetti, bylaws manager, in a statement. “The safety and security of citizens is the highest priority.”
She said the city found a ‘public assembly use’ at the residence, which is contrary to zoning bylaws.
A bylaws officer served a letter to Taylor on Dec. 18, advising a business license is required and the assembly use is not permitted.
“The operator is to cease operating until approvals are in place for his business, which does not allow the assembly use. We will be following up as soon as possible,” said Orsetti.
“When people are considering doing this type of event they need to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are following all of the proper approvals, especially given that the event caters to young citizens.”
She said a criminal record check should be done, impacts on neighbours considered, and establishing a formal relationship with a registered charity to provide transparency around donations and tax receipts should be undertaken.
“Our role, as the city, is to ensure that the proper steps have been taken by event organizers.”
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