Nfld. & Labrador

Moratorium on permits for adult massage parlours in St. John's

The City of St. John's has decided to put a moratorium on permits for adult massage parlour businesses, after receiving numerous complaints about a business in a downtown residential area.
Coun. Jonathan Galgay says the city will put a moratorium on permits for adult massage parlours in St. John's, until it can clarify language in the paperwork. (CBC)

Complaints about an adult massage parlour located in downtown St. John's have prompted city council to vote in favour of a moratorium on permits for similar businesses.

The city made the decision after receiving numerous complaints about a business located on Wood Street, a residential area in the city's downtown.

Last year, the business was shut down after the city realized the paperwork filed was incorrect. It was later reopened.

However, the city has received more complaints about the business and on Monday, council voted to declare a moratorium on granting new permits to adult massage parlours until it can clarify wording on necessary paperwork.

Coun. Jonathan Galgay said there was one complaint he forwarded to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

They [residents] don't want these in their neighbourhoods, I tend to agree with them. It's just unfortunate that they fall under the definition of a service shop- Jonathan Galgay

"The complaints are there's some harassment issues, there's vehicles coming and going all hours of the night. It's just uncomfortable for people," said Galgay.

"I've even had a report that I've actually referred to the RNC quite some time ago that a child was actually left in a vehicle when somebody when into one of these businesses on Wood Street. Very, very concerning."

What's the fuss?

Kendra's Red House, the massage parlour in question, said in a statement Tuesday that they haven't received complaints and management is surprised by all the attention.

"Three hotels operate within a hundred meters or so, Hempware is basically across the street, an art gallery is next door, and a new hotel is going through the process of opening right behind us," read the statement.

"There are bars in each hotel, an exotic dance bar operated within a stones throw, as well as a pool bar just down Duckworth."

The statement added that the location has a discreet and professional environment, adding "we are not a scary drug den, human traffickers, or some other stereotypical idea of this type of establishment that the public may think is the case."

They agree that parking in the area is an ongoing issue, and they're working to address those problems.

However, the statement added that's a problem pretty much all businesses in the downtown area experience.

"Perhaps the idea of a massage parlour is what disturbs our neighbours so much, but we absolutely do not endeavour to draw attention to ourselves in the neighbourhood," read the statement.

"There is no signage out front; we rely on word of mouth, client phone calls, and our online advertising to take care of disseminating our actual location."

Separate category

Galgay said because of the language on permit applications, these kinds of massage parlours fall under the same category as barber shop businesses.

"They [residents] don't want these in their neighbourhoods, I tend to agree with them. It's just unfortunate that they fall under the definition of a service shop," he said.

"I don't want to see them in residential neighbourhoods, I think they should be moved out into a commercial area or a business district and leave the neighbours alone, let them raise their families and spend time with friends in a neighbourhood that is safe, quiet and respectful."

All applications for similar businesses have been suspended until the language can be clarified and the nature of the businesses are clearly identified in the paperwork.

Galgay said the city doesn't have the authority to go in and shut down these businesses, since they were already approved by council.

However, the city hopes to eventually be able to move the businesses out of residential areas and allow them to operate in a business area.

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