Katherine Little, owner of the Little Jam Stand, has been feeling more and more harassed as complaints filed against her have become increasingly personal. (Devon Bidal/News Staff) Katherine Little, owner of the Little Jam Stand, has been feeling more and more harassed as complaints filed against her have become increasingly personal. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich jam stand owner feels harassed, seeks legal advice

‘It’s just effing jam,’ has become Little’s new motto

Katherine Little sat on her couch under a bay window overlooking Queensbury Avenue. Despite the quiet street, she was on edge Thursday morning.

A knock on the front door startled her and she rolled her eyes, assuming it would be the tenth Saanich bylaw enforcement officer coming to investigate a complaint. Instead, it was a letter from the District of Saanich – dated Sept. 24 – alerting Little that yet another complaint had been filed against her and her jam stand. This time, the complaint was about her having a sign on the boulevard, but there was no sign in sight.

Little, a retiree, manages the Little Stand where sells jams, chutneys and salsas. She opened it the summer of 2018 and operated it without issue until December when Island Health called saying a complaint had been filed about the product not being Foodsafe. Little complied by getting certified and moving operations to the Mustard Seed’s commercial kitchen.

A customer painted a picture of Little’s stand and, with the artist’s permission, she turned it into advertisement cards for the stand. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Things escalated quickly after the first complaint. Nine bylaw enforcement officers have been by investigating a variety of complaints in the past few months. Little recieved nasty notes, signs were stolen and the stand was vandalized. Little, who has a background in law enforcement and suffers from PTSD, decided to file a police report as she feared for the safety of her family and home.

READ ALSO: Saanich jam stand at the centre of controversy prepares to close

The stand was shut down in June 2019 for selling retail from a private home – a bylaw violation – but Little was told she could continue to take orders.

Two local grocery stores and a restaurant also stepped in and offered to sell Little’s jams after hearing her story. However, two days after the jams arrived in Pepper’s Foods, an email was sent to the store from someone impersonating a Canadian Food Inspection Agency officer. The email said the labels didn’t comply with the rules and that the jam should be removed from shelves immediately. The manager informed Little and did not stop selling the jams. Little wonders if the person was angry she’d found another way to keep selling her jams despite being shut down.

The stand still sits in front of the Little’s home, but the jars of jam have been replaced with order forms.

On Sept. 20, Little received a call from Saanich asking her to move the stand off the boulevard – which she did. On Monday, the office followed up about moving the stand and came to her with a new complaint. Apparently she was building an illegal shed in her backyard – the Littles have no structures in their backyard. Bylaw enforcement officers came to investigate what she said was the ninth complaint in the past few months and found no shed.

Little noted that the complaints used to be about her sign, then her stand and now her home. She feels the attacks are becoming more personal and worries she’s being watched.

“I’m not sure what else there is to comply with,” she said.

READ ALSO: Local grocery store steps up to help resident after Saanich jams her stand

Little and her husband decided to visit a municipal lawyer who told them to keep complying, chain the stand to a tree lest someone come to take it off their property and to consider pursuing a harassment complaint. To do so, Little would have to sue Jane and John Doe and then a court order could demand that Saanich reveal the source of the complaints.

Little doesn’t understand the motivation behind the harassment, nor does she understand why Saanich continues to take the complaints at face value. She is exhausted.

“One more thing, and I’m going to court,” she said defiantly.

Little wishes that Saanich had agreed to mediate the issue or that the neighbour had come to her with the complaint. The 4,000 letters, paintings, cards and petition signatures in support of the stand help, she said. Little has no plans to give up, but acknowledged the drama has taken a toll on her family.

“I don’t want the fight, but I miss my jam stand,” she said sadly. “It’s just effing jam.”

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes confirmed that the bylaw prohibiting farm stands is currently under review, but emphasized that until it is changed, the bylaw must be upheld.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

Homeless shelter at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre creates 40 jobs

The arena can house 45 people in pop-up pods

Bears spotted near Saanich lake spooked by police, wandered off

Bear, cub not seen over weekend but police ask residents to be on alert

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Most Read