A massage parlour in the southeast community of Dover has been shut down because of links to prostitution, say Calgary police.

Police went to court to get a 30-day closure order against Paradise Spa at 3155 34th Avenue S.E., which takes effect Monday.

massage parlour shut

A massage parlour in southeast Calgary has been shut under a community safety order after a police investigation about prostitution taking place there. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

The community safety order (CSO) also prevents the owner of the property from leasing the space to any massage business for a year after the closure period expires.

The property has been the source of many complaints by local residents.

"This particular location has been on our radar for 12 years," said Staff Sgt. Robert Rutledge.

The Calgary Police Service worked with the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Unit (SCAN) of the Alberta Law Enforcement Teams (ALERT) on the investigation.  

"It amazed me how many people knew this was going on," said SCAN  investigator Glenn Stuart. "It wasn't a secret — they all knew — but nobody knew how they could make it go away."

SCAN received a complaint nearly a year ago. One employee was charged and the was business closed for a few weeks, but authorities say it reopened and continued to offer sexual services.

"In the past they would just change their names get new employees and business as usual, in this particular instance being closed down brings a lot of satisfaction," said Rutledge.

He says the move is not only being celebrated by Calgary police, but by the community as well.

100 feet from daycare

“If you can imagine, there was a business operating as a daycare 100 feet from this massage parlour where prostitution was taking place,” said Stuart.

“This is the first CSO granted in Alberta, and likely Canada, addressing the ongoing problem of businesses registered as massage parlours performing acts of prostitution.”

Alberta Health Services has also been involved because of concerns of transferring sexually transmitted diseases inside the parlour and the presence of used condoms in the trash outside of the building. 

SCAN believes there are about 150 such massage parlours operating in Calgary.

"Sometimes Dover and Forest Lawn and communities like that get a bit of a bad rap. And I'll tell you, we do a lot of work in these communities. But there are a lot of good people who live in these communities and they don't deserve to have to live with this," said Stuart.

Doug King, a justice studies professor at Mount Royal University, says it's difficult to shut down prostitution operations.

"The door shuts and the transaction takes place in private between the individual and the person who is looking to provide the sexual services," he said. 

"That's the hard part to monitor and to regulate so it is a very difficult criminal thing to look into." 

Police are hoping this closure will send a warning to people who run illegal massage parlours.

"We are targeting them and they better clean up their business habits," said Rutledge.