03/17/2014 01:31 EDT | Updated 05/17/2014 05:59 EDT

West Island teen gets $428 fine for advertising painting service

When 17-year-old Connor Walsh took a part-time job doing door-to-door advertising for a seasonal painting company, the last thing on his mind was whether it was even legal to do it in the first place.

It turns out that door-to-door solicitation without a distribution permit contravenes a local bylaw in Beaconsfield, and Walsh found out about it the hard way.

“It was around 15 minutes into my shift and we were going door to door. It was going fine, it was an average night,” Walsh, a Pointe-Claire resident and John Rennie High School student, says.

But then his Scholars At Your Service co-worker got into an argument with a Beaconsfield resident who did not take too kindly to their door-to-door solicitation, and called public security on the teens.

Within a few minutes, public security arrived and slapped the workers with $428 fines.

After the city discovered Walsh was a minor, the fine was reduced to $100.

“I had absolutely no clue that I could get ticketed,” he told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.

Complaints from residents

Walsh says they didn’t care what company he was working for, maintaining the youth was personally responsible for paying the fine.

In an email from Beaconsfield public security director Douglas Hawes sent to Walsh’s father, the reason employees are targeted is because some companies find loopholes to get out of paying fines.

“We have been receiving complaints from residents about this company and [another] company, Vitres-Net, for many years,” Hawes wrote, explaining that the company sells local franchises for the season, and it’s up to the franchisee to hire staff.

“These franchises are mostly purchased by students who start up a company for the summer and then simply close it at the end of the season,” Hawed continued.

But that answer is not good enough for Walsh and father, Chris, who said public security was preying on young people who are just trying to make an honest buck and that the company was negligent in not informing its employees that they risked being fined in some areas.

“In this situation, I think it’s the painting company’s responsibility. I’m just a 17-year-old student, I didn’t really look that far into this job. I thought it was good pay and I wanted money over the summer, so I decided to take it,” Walsh said.

Jean-SébastienGenest is the Montreal manager for Scholars At Your Service and he said the company is taking care of paying Walsh’s fine.

He said the company admittedly should have done more looking into the local bylaws about door-to-door solicitation, and said that the company has ceased operations in Beaconsfield at least for the time being.

“It’s a tricky writing in the law. Even if I get licensed to do advertisements, I don’t have the right to knock on doors according to them, if you read the law,” Genest said.