Regina city council voted to deny an application for a bar that would feature exotic dancers following an intense presentation of opinions from concerned groups and citizens Monday night.
A packed city council gallery erupted with a standing ovation in response to the decision. Most delegations spoke against the proposed club.
'We've heard the heartbeat of Regina.' - Ward 1 Counc. Barbara Young
"I think this evening we've heard the heartbeat of Regina," Counc. Barbara Young (Ward 1) said prior to the vote, which was done by a show of hands of council members.
Only one council member, Shawn Fraser from Ward 3, spoke in favour of the proposed club. Fraser said the most effective way to deal with concerns about stripping is to acknowledge it takes place. He added city council members are not the gatekeepers of the adult entertainment industry.
After his application was denied, businessman Bryan Gottfredsen said Regina is just not ready for adult entertainment, adding he may have been defeated by a vocal minority.
Gottfredsen hoped to open a strip club in an industrial area in the city's east end in the spring. He told council he wanted to provide a "safe and comfortable" environment for employees and patrons using video surveillance and safe service of alcohol practices.
However, 19 delegations were lined up to voice opposition to the business.
City staff say the proposal meets their regulations. The site, at 1047 Park St., is the former Whiskey Saloon.
The city bylaw requires that there be at least 183 metres of separation between the proposed strip club and schools, churches, funeral homes and daycares.
But opponents, including church groups, argued it will lead to crime and the exploitation of women.
CBC News reporter Lauren Golosky was at city council. Here are some highlights, from her live-tweeting:
- Pastor Rick Parkyn: "We do believe in development. But a strip club won't "enhance our city."
- Emmanuel Sanchez from Harvest City Christian Academy: "Whatever decision you make today, know it will affect the city forever."
- Linda Smith: Strip clubs are "degrading to women and contribute to violence against women and children."
- Kelly Thompson from Morning Star Ministries: "Why would we allow Regina to be known for its strip club?"
- Harry Rohde: "A step backwards to creating a healthy and progressive community."
- Richard Lepp (A retired Saskatoon police officer): "I observed numerous assaults, arrests for drug trafficking and active prostitution take place on and out of the premises."
- Pastor: "There is actual harm to the women that work in these establishments".
- Graham Beke: Does not believe it is a freedom of expression problem, but a way to market liquor and "increase the sale of alcohol at the expense of exploiting women."
- Jessamy Unger: "In voting against this proposal, you are telling women that they are beautiful and valuable."
- Ashleigh Chorney: "A strip club might not seem like a big deal" but it's key to stop traffickers from doing what they do.
Stripping in bars had long been illegal in Saskatchewan, but that changed a little over a year ago when the province revamped the liquor rules.