When is restaurant not a restaurant?
It's a question that arose in Lunenburg recently thanks to virtual reality technology that a Mahone Bay entrepreneur employed for Scott Sherman, who owns property in the town and was looking to lease out some of his space on Lincoln Street.
Liam Tayler of SME Solutions used virtual reality technology to adapt photos of the vacant space at 112 to 118 Lincoln to signify its potential as a restaurant.
And it was so, well, virtual, it had at least one town official fooled.
"It appears that I did my job a little too well," Tayler commented wryly to LighthouseNOW.
Within hours of posting the retouched photos to social media and the web, Sherman received an e-mail from Arthur MacDonald, the town's Heritage Officer.
Sherman shared it with Tayler suggesting he would find it amusing.
"'It has come to our attention that there are renovations taken place at 112-118 Lincoln Street without the benefit of permits. All work shall cease immediately until the proper permits are in place in order to enable the development to proceed. As you know, this property is a designated Municipal Heritage Property and any substantial alteration to the exterior requires Council's prior approval pursuant to Section 17 of the Heritage Property Act,'" the e-mail stated.
"'We anticipate that you will comply with this Order immediately.'"
The fire inspector, secretary, planning manager were all cc'd in.
Sherman forwarded the e-mail to Tayler with the comment: "'It seems your virtual staging confused both the town managers and its inspectors.'"
Tayler said that Sherman called MacDonald and followed the phone conversation up with an e-mail confirming "'absolutely no work was done that required building permits. We're sorry that someone reported us for doing nothing. Please check the site out yourself to confirm as we discussed in our conversation this morning.'"
Sherman subsequently received an e-mail from MacDonald confirming he had since undertaken an inspection, "and hereby confirm that there is no development taking place at 112-118 Lincoln Street, as shown in the attached pictures. I apologize for any inconvenience. "
While he saw the humour of the situation, Tayler, for one, was unimpressed.
"How can you not visit a property prior to issuing a letter like that? " he asks.
"It is yet another example of petty bureaucracy targeting an investor in the town who wants nothing more than to create sustainable business and employment." complained Tayler.