City of Nanaimo says soup kitchen needs a building permit


WATCH: A community effort to feed Nanaimo’s hungry is facing a major hurdle. The City of Nanaimo says the structure they serve food in doesn’t meet its standards and it needs to come down. And to make matters worse the landlords of the property say the tenant has to move out. Kendall Hanson reports.

For nearly a year, volunteers have fed Nanaimo’s hungry every night in the city’s south end.

The initiative is called “Stone Soup” and it started with a simple goal.

“[To] help the ones who are on the street have a hot meal before they go to bed,” said Doug Hiltz, one of the founders.

Up to 160 people get a meal every night, but now organizers are worried about Stone Soup’s future.

Last week, the City of Nanaimo informed them the tent-plywood structure Stone Soup operates from doesn’t have a building permit.

The city has ordered that it be taken down by March 14.

But the owner of the property isn’t waiting that long. He wants Stone Soup to tear the structure down and leave.

“Not very happy. First thing I did was started calling the press and started calling everybody I know because I know Stone Soup is here to stay,” Tanya Hiltz, a founder.

The organizers say the structure has been in place since September

“Why’d they wait a year to do anything? Why not shut it down in the first few weeks?” asked Doug Hiltz.

They say it shouldn’t need a building permit because it’s not a building.

“Because if you look around we have a tent for a roof and they are pony walls. It is not a structure. A structure in my mind is with a roof,” said Tanya.

But Nanaimo’s mayor says the good work at Stone Soup doesn’t release them from the city’s rules.

“We know that there are lots of poor and hungry people in our community and hopefully, a solution can be found but one has to comply with the law and the law does not allow you in this city to erect structures without a building permit,” said Leonard Krog.

He says the bylaws apply to everyone equally and having water and electricity hooked up to a structure requires a building permit.

Those at Stone Soup say they plan on continuing to feed the hungry despite this roadblock. They say they are exploring their options and lobbying those on city council to ensure those who are hungry don’t go without.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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