A television show about a dog detective recently managed to fool a St. John's neighbourhood — and even a city inspector.
The city said Friday it received a complaint from a resident on Gower Street in the downtown core on Aug. 10 about what appeared to be an illegal hair salon — named Curl Up & Dye, according to the sign on the front window — based in a neighbouring home.
After an inspector investigated, the city sent a letter to the homeowners to say they needed to apply to the city for proper certification — or face fines and legal action.
But Curl Up & Dye doesn't actually exist — the painted "storefront" is actually part of a set for the CityTV television show Hudson & Rex, which films in and around St. John's.
Homeowners Anne Pickard-Vaandering and Julian Vaandering find the whole situation very amusing.
"We were just laughing. Clearly it was an oversight, an honest mistake," Julian Vaandering said Friday.
On Monday, the couple were surprised to find a letter from the city saying an inspector "revealed that it appears Curl Up & Dye Beauty Salon is operating a portion of the building without approvals and an occupancy certificate."
The letter instructed the couple to fill out a business application, complete with a floor plan of the occupied space. Failure to comply, the city wrote, meant potential fines, legal action and a possible lien on the property
Pickard-Vaandering said the couple replied to the city immediately to clear up the misunderstanding.
The couple love the painted Curl Up & Dye sign and even posted a poll on Facebook asking people if they should keep it for a while after filming ended.
"Overwhelmingly people said, 'Yes, keep it, this is hilarious, it adds to the neighbourhood.' That in itself was enough to make so many people laugh. We thought it was such a scream," said Pickard-Vaandering.
The home actually once was a beauty salon years ago, named Elegant Beauty Salon. Pickard-Vaandering said other salons filled the space before that, dating back to the 1940s, but since the couple took ownership it has simply been their home.
'It appeared legitimate'
The City of St. John's declined to do an interview but in a statement said the inspector assigned to the complaint visited the property and "through his assessment determined that it was likely a business was operating without approvals."
The city said inspection staff use a "variety of tools" when investigating complaints before action is taken.
"In this situation, it appeared legitimate and warranted action. The window sign appears real and there is an Open/Closed sign in the door window and there was nothing on site that [stated] this business was a setup for filming," the city said.
"In addition, the name 'Curl Up and Dye' is a legitimate business in other provinces."
The city has dropped the complaint but said if the Vaanderings want to keep their sign, it will need to be reviewed by the city to make sure it meets city heritage guidelines.
The Vaanderings said the city has been a good sport about the whole ordeal and hopes council and the inspector can laugh as much as they have.
"We're really, really happy that so many people had such a good laugh from it," said Pickard-Vaandering.
"There were a few comments that were negative toward the city but we're taking it all with a grain of salt because the laughter from it all that this has generated far outweighs any negativity that the odd person might have made about the city. To the city's credit, they did reply to us."