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.

Just Posted

New, feature-length documentary on missing woman Emma Fillipoff comes out next year

The film follows Fillipoff’s disappearance and the ongoing investigation

Victoria Police Department seeks provincial budget review for second year in a row

VicPD hopes to see four more staff positions after request was denied in the 2019 budget

Harbour authority to honour Victoria sailor Jeanne Socrates with naming ceremony

In September Socrates became the oldest person to sail around the world in a solo, unassisted trip

Escaped Metchosin inmate sentenced to additional year tacked on to 14-year sentence

Man escaped from William Head Institution arrested days later in Esquimalt

VIDEO: The sticky truth about winter moths and how Greater Victoria arborists fight them

Winter moths have ‘killed a lot of trees’ across the region, says Oak Bay arborist

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

EDITORIAL: It’s time to face the truth on drug use

The homeless don’t own the drug epidemic

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Most Read