When Jonathon Smith’s five-year-old daughter Lily decided last week that she wanted to set up a lemonade stand near their home in Tay Township, in Ontario’s southern Georgian Bay region, Smith enthusiastically helped her build it.
Using leftover wood from a neighbour’s fence, the pair built the portable stand and positioned it on the side of the Tay Shore Trail, located just beside their property, on Wednesday. They chose the location, Smith says, because he didn’t want Lily’s stand to be near the road where she could be at risk from passing traffic.
Because Lily hasn’t honed her math skills just yet, Smith says she gave lemonade to passersby for free, and even set out water for trail-walkers’ dogs.
“They absolutely love it,” Smith told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Monday. “Everybody’s got huge smiles on their faces and they don’t see a lot of it anymore.”
Despite its favourable reception among trail users, Lily’s lemonade stand wasn’t a hit with everyone.
On Sunday, Smith said he discovered a notice from Tay Township taped to his front door and another one on the lemonade stand. The letters, originally delivered by bylaw officers on Friday, notified him that he had 10 days to take down the wooden stand or the township would remove it at a cost of $125 that he would have to pay.
“Our reaction was a little taken aback by it,” Smith said. “It’s not like an actual food stand or anything that we’re profiting from.”
Smith posted a photo of Lily and her lemonade stand along with a photo of the Tay Township notice to his Facebook page on Sunday to gauge reaction.
Most, he said, have come out in support of the stand.
“There are a lot of people that are extremely upset with the way they dealt with it,” Smith said.
Robert Lamb, the Chief Administrative Officer for Tay Township, told CTVNews.ca that the request for the lemonade stand’s removal was made due to liability concerns.
“If somebody was biking along and they caught their handlebars on it, the fact that it was there on the trail opens the municipality up to liability for it,” Lamb said.
Tay Township is already facing two separate lawsuits from visitors who were injured while rollerblading on the Tay Shore Trail, Lamb said.
“We’re being made out to be monsters for taking somebody’s lemonade stand off the trail, but the reality is, it is public lands and if somebody had hit it, we then could get sued and those are public dollars that then have to defend the municipality,” he explained.
Lamb said the family should have contacted the township with their plans to ensure there were no issues and to possibly come up with an alternative solution.
But Smith doesn’t agree.
“We just kind of feel like, if you’re riding down the trail and you run into a popsicle stand or an ice cream stand or a lemonade stand with your bike, then you’re more of a hazard than the fixture on side of the trail,” he said.
Smith argued that there are other objects such as garbage cans, benches, signs and outhouses along the trail that could also be considered hazards.
For now, Smith said he hasn’t told Lily that she has to take down her lemonade stand. He said he expects to speak with officials about it soon, but until then, he will continue setting it up for his daughter.
“My daughter enjoys it and the people on the trail enjoy it and it seems only to be the township that’s not enjoying it,” he said. “Everything’s unsafe these days, but we can’t walk around with our hands tied around our backs.”