Dollhouse denied

Louis Power
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Collector can't get permit to display dolls to the public

Madonna Porter's C.B.S. home is decorated wall-to-wall with massive collections she's been building on for seven years. More than 500 Barbie dolls of all kinds are on display and walls are lined with hundreds of teapots, photographs and other artwork.

"There's not too much I haven't got," she said. "It's not junk. It's not garbage, believe you me."

Madonna Porter, a collector in C.B.S., is at odds with town council about opening her home for viewing. Photo by Laura Power/The Telegram

Madonna Porter's C.B.S. home is decorated wall-to-wall with massive collections she's been building on for seven years. More than 500 Barbie dolls of all kinds are on display and walls are lined with hundreds of teapots, photographs and other artwork.

"There's not too much I haven't got," she said. "It's not junk. It's not garbage, believe you me."

Her collections grew quickly as friends and colleagues at Eastern Health added to them, and now Porter feels compelled to display them to the public as a thank you to those who have contributed.

"I think I should have the right to thank the people," she said as she picked up a doll here and there and reminisced on how she came across each one.

But Porter's display room - an extension built onto her house - does not meet the safety standards required by town council in order to open it to the public.

Elaine Mitchell, director of planning and development with the town, explained that fire safety and accessibility are major issues for the unheated extension.

"The town cannot permit her to open up her premises until she has those approvals," she said.

"If you look at it from a safety perspective, you know, what happens if something goes wrong?"

Three years ago, Porter began letting people in to see the dolls, including collectors from other areas in the province. As she is not selling anything or attempting to open as a business, she doesn't understand why she can't continue to allow people to view the collections.

"It's my private home," she said.

Mitchell said the issue isn't about inviting a few people in, but problems could arise if it opened to the public.

"If she wants to invite her friends in to look at her collections, she can go right ahead and do so. But as soon as she starts advertising it and having a large number of individuals going through, then she has to meet these standards," said Mitchell.

The town has been in contact with Porter and has explained the regulations, but Porter said she feels as though she isn't getting the guidance or feedback she needs in order to pursue her plans.

"I know I haven't got my proper guidelines," she said. "If it goes on and on and on and there's no light at the end of the tunnel, where do I go?"

If she is unable to open her home to show her collections, Porter said, she may consider selling them to give the money to charity.

lpower@thetelegram.com

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