Latest posts by Chris Marchand (see all)
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By Jon Thompson
A local barber whose business proposal didn’t make the cut with the City of Dryden is shearing in Sioux Lookout.
Kyle Szachury feels abandoned by the city after he trained with the Ontario Barber’s Association to open a barbershop in Dryden and was denied a business license.
A 1990 provincial regulation requires towns that abide by the Municipal Act to license such shops only to registered hairdressers. Sioux Lookout doesn’t abide by that act and after leaving Dryden’s City Hall claiming to have been treated like a “stupid kid,” Szachury was open in Sioux Lookout within the week.
“They almost chase away more business than they bring in. It pissed me off,” Szachury said of the City of Dryden, adding six of his classmates have opened up barbershops without hassle from their municipalities. “The whole reason I went to become a barber is because I didn’t want to move away from town. Originally, I went to school to be a land surveyor. I was in school in Alberta and realized I didn’t want to move away from Dryden.”
Dryden’s chief building official, Bob Cunningham insisted his decision adheres to provincial law and denied the city is chasing away business.
“I asked the province. These people (Szachury’s classmates) may be operating a business under a license but they can’t go out on their own, independently. They have to operate under the supervision of a registered hairstylist.”
The Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities refused to confirm it had advised Dryden on the matter but expressed its role is limited to noting whether an individual is a holder of a valid Certificate of Qualification.
Sean Gibson is the president of the Ontario Barber’s Association. He personally trained Szachury at his shop in Hamilton, which was opened four years after the provincial regulation came into effect. He has seen some municipalities enforcing the hairstylist designation while others aren’t. Just as he called out the province for having a double standard to regulate barbers but not to regulate estheticians who work with chemicals or tattoo artists who pierce skin with ink and needles, he’s demanding a straight answer as to whether his own shop is violating the law. If he’s legal in a town that adheres to the Municipal Act, why are others being denied business licenses?
“It’s a major gap that has been missing from the ministry on their end and they have to take accountability,”
Gibson said. “You walk from town to town and you see hundreds of barbershops but the government has erased the word ‘barber’ from all vernacular. They’ve essentially erased the barbering trade but there are still thousands of barbers out there.”
Gibson lamented Dryden’s loss of a tradesman who would have a sure market over ill-defined provincial politics and inconsistent application of the law at the municipal level.
“It’s something so simple but it’s very convoluted. Here’s a young guy who’s sharp, he’s personable, he would fit right into our business in the barbershop out here. It’s an aging population (in Dryden). He’d fit right in there. That didn’t happen. The (ministry) said, ‘you can’t do this.’ He asked why and they can’t answer.”