Trying to open Crumbz Bakery has proven to be a “frustrating” experience for Cindy Babcock.
“I feel like a dog chasing my tail,” she said. “I keep going around in circles.”
As soon as she’s able to open the doors, Babcock’s New Sudbury dessert and coffee shop will carry traditional baked treats along with gluten-free products and vegan-friendly snacks.
She still has some work to do before that can happen though.
Babcock said the shop was supposed to be open in September, but she said she has run into so many problems with the city’s building control department that the bakery won’t be ready for customers until Dec.1.
She said poor communication seems to be the root of the problem.
“The left hand does not talk to the right hand (at the city),” she said.
Obtaining a building permit proved to be a time-consuming challenge, due to a parking issue.
When Babcock’s landlord submitted a sketch of the parking lot to determine how the lot would be divided among tenants, the city came back to Babcock, telling her the image looked like “a Grade 2 drawing.”
After resubmitting the sketch, Babcock found out she couldn’t have a sit-down restaurant at the shop because there wasn’t enough parking space. According to the city, vehicles won’t have the 10 meters required to get in and out of parking spots without driving on the city’s sidewalk.
“I can understand why people don’t want to open their businesses here,” she said. “It’s frustrating.”
After going too long without getting answers, Babcock finally called the Mayor’s office, where staff helped her make headway. She said business owners shouldn’t have to go to such drastic lengths to get “action.”
Guido Mazza, chief building official for City of Greater Sudbury and director of building services, said it is the responsibility of the business owner to do all the “leg work” before submitting an application for a permit.
He said the city is not able to act as a building designer for a new business owner since Bill 124 was introduced on Jan.1, 2006.
“We have to be very careful because we don’t want to put ourselves into a designer role — our role is one of a regulatory function to review the plans,” he said.
While bigger businesses normally have consultants to help get all the required documents in order, Mazza acknowledged that its not something most small-scale businesses can afford.
Since small-business owners likely don’t know all the ins and outs that a building designer would, Mazza said they require “a little bit more hand-holding and guidance through that process.”
He recommended that business owners who need help along the way contact the Regional Business Centre.
Dana Jennings, Regional Business Centre (RBC) co-ordinator, said the organization tries to be “first-contact” for new businesses.
She said the RBC can help businesses with things like obtaining licenses, permits and registrations, as well as assist them with market analysis, startup and growth analysis and financing.
While the centre is affiliated with the city, Jennings said the RBC is not just a city department.
“Our funding really does not come solely from the city,” she said. “We have responsibility from all three levels of government and private-sector partnerships.”
She said the centre likes to keep an open-door policy and is available to new businesses from all sectors.
Since every business is different, Jennings suggested new business owners contact the RBC for personal assistance tailored to their questions and concerns.
“We’re going to do what we can to advocate for our clients, and really make sure they have a positive (experience),” she said.
While Babcock is in the process of opening Crumbz, she said she is taking orders for gluten-free products at 705-618-1089.