Nova Scotia

BDSM controversy could shut down Stellarton bed and breakfast

Residents of a town in Nova Scotia's Pictou County are grappling with whether they should force a local bed and breakfast out of business because it caters to those interested in erotic practices known as BDSM.

Neighbours of Euphoria B&B concerned about business on their quiet street

Euphoria B&B was advertised as a "kinky bed and breakfast" before its website was taken down in late March. The business has been operating in Stellarton since September 2015. (Euphoria B&B website)

Residents of a town in Nova Scotia's Pictou County are grappling with whether they should force a local bed and breakfast out of business because it caters to those interested in erotic practices known as BDSM.

Euphoria B&B, a home business in Stellarton opened by owners Kelly McAlear and Leslie Ogle in September 2015, is for adults who want to experience role-playing, bondage, dominance, submission and sadomasochism.

Last month, McAlear and Ogle had a conversation with police, who questioned whether they had the right permit to operate a business out of their home according to the town bylaws.

Since they didn't have the proper documentation, the couple agreed to take down a website advertising their business.

In the weeks since, word of the Euphoria B&B has spread and spawned "meetings with various families and town officials."

"We're a little shocked," said Kim Murray, a neighbour who found out about the bed and breakfast two weeks ago.

"I think the people with small children seem to be more concerned. Again, they don't know who's going to be in their neighbourhood and who will be coming."

Bylaw vs covenant

The owners of Euphoria B&B, who declined an interview, told CBC that they have applied for the correct permit since their conversation with police.

A town planner in Stellarton says if the couple obtain a permit and the location passes a fire inspection, the town cannot force the business to stay closed.

However, there is a neighbourhood covenant for Poplar Street in Stellarton — where the bed and breakfast is located — which indicates there must be no business or professional activity on the road.

"If somebody felt that a property owner was in contravention of one of the covenants, they could seek legal advice and perhaps take some kind of civil action," said Roland Burek, a town planner.

Nova Scotia's kink scene

According to a member of Halifax's Society of Bastet — where people can carry out sexual fetishes and practise an alternative lifestyle — the so-called kink scene is more common than many realize. 

A man, who CBC has agreed not to identify, says between 30 and 100 people participate in kink parties in the Halifax area on a regular basis. According to FetLife, which promotes itself as the largest and most popular free social network for the kinky community, there are 17,000 members in Nova Scotia.

"Some of those are probably fake accounts but when you compare that to the New York numbers, compared to our population, it's pretty huge," he said.

There are currently about 111,000 FetLife members from New York.

The Society of Bastet member says one of the misconceptions about BDSM is that it's rough sex. He points out that is not always the case.

"BDSM does not have to include sex. If two people are consenting, they can have sex with their BDSM — that is fine — but they don't have to," he said.

"At Bastet, and at the bars and the parties too, sex is off the table. So that way you can just focus on the S&M and not have to worry about having that sexual pressure there."

About the Author

Angela MacIvor is CBC Nova Scotia's investigative reporter. She has been with CBC since 2006 as a reporter and producer in all three Maritime provinces. All news tips welcome. Send an email to cbcnsinvestigates@cbc.ca

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