Edmonton

Body rub task force urges city to limit clustering of parlours

A task force looking into the body rub industry in Edmonton recommends the city limit clustering of body rub centres in vulnerable neighbourhoods.

Some concern current bylaws and licensing costs may push body rub centres underground

A task force looking into the body rub industry in Edmonton will present its report to city council Monday. (CBC)

A task force looking into the body rub industry in Edmonton recommends the city limit clustering of body rub centres in vulnerable neighbourhoods.

"Representatives of vulnerable neighbourhoods were concerned that high concentration of BRCs and their tendency to co-locate with liquor stores and pawnshops contributed to urban decay in their neighbourhoods," the report said.

It also advises the city to set appropriate distances between the parlours and places such as schools, playgrounds and parks and to warn businesses like daycares of body rub centres in the area when those businesses apply for a development permit.

Currently body rub locations must be at least 100 metres away from schools, parks and daycares.  

The report also suggests the city review advertising standards for body rub centres to ensure signs are discreet.

The 15-member task force was commissioned last year to study the impact of the body rub centres on the city, inner-city neighbourhoods, civic services and body rub centre owners and workers.

A sharp increase in the number of body rub centres two years ago prompted city council to impose a moratorium on the industry to give the city time to figure out how to control it.

The moratorium ended May 1st.

Goal is to prevent human trafficking

The task force focused on the safety of the communities and the body rub workers.

"It is the hope of the Task Force that these recommendations will assist the City of Edmonton to ensure through its bylaws, enforcement and social services that the exploitation of vulnerable people or communities is minimized and that serious social ills like human trafficking are identified and addressed."

Other recommendations include:

  • Ensure the workers have information on and access to social services and other ways out of the industry if they so choose. 
  • Provide body rub practitioners and support staff with comprehensive health information.
  • Develop a well-understood reporting structure for workers who want to make complaints safely. 
  • Require body rub centres to have on-site management at all times as a condition of operation.
  • Ensure regular occupational health and safety inspections of body rub centres.

Task Force members were also worried that the current bylaws and licensing costs may push body rub centres underground, beyond regulation and policing.

It urged the city to reduce the cost of body rub centre licences to bring them in line with other businesses such as nightclubs and bars and eliminate, or significantly reduce, the cost of obtaining a body rub practitioner licence.

On the other hand it suggested the city increase fines to ensure compliance.  

The report will be discussed by city councillors Monday.

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