Saskatchewan

Regina city administration set to put body rub parlour discussion to rest

Regina's city administration is set to put the discussion on body rub parlours to rest Sep. 23.

Vast majority of residents at public meetings wanted body rub parlours banned

The City of Regina suspects there are about 20 massage/body rub parlours operating in the city.

Regina's city administration is set to put the discussion on body rub parlours to rest Sep. 23.

It's still recommending massage parlours be regulated instead of banning them.

That's despite public meetings where the vast majority of speakers wanted an outright ban of the establishments.

A supplemental report submitted to council included research that did not recommend banning sex work. There's also data from Edmonton which suggests that regulation has helped that city make the body rub industry safer.

Instead, the city is recommending a new bylaw that would license the businesses and have them in industrial zones on a discretionary use. It's also recommended they be in major arterial commercial zones. They would also need to be at least one city block away from schools, churches and daycares.

A proposed new bylaw on massage/body rub parlours will be debated at a special council meeting on Sept. 21. (Emily Pasiuk/CBC News)

City Coun. Andrew Stevens said he recognizes community members are concerned about safety, but he said there's "no silver bullet" in this issue.

"All of the evidence is pointing towards a licensing system regime that gets the city, the RPS, [the] sexual assault centre, perhaps the health region, health-care practitioners in the door to resolve some of the cases of violence, exploitation and sexual health issues," he said.

"Some residents think it's as simple as 'ban it, it disappears.' It doesn't."

Stevens said he does think residents are concerned about victimization in the industry, which he said was a positive.

Any suspected massage parlours that are currently operating in residential areas would be shut down.

The report also recommends changing the name from massage parlours to body rub parlours to differentiate the businesses from registered massage therapists.

The recommendations come after months of talks with the public, parlour owners and workers, the Regina Police Service Vice Unit, and experts in criminology and sex work. The city also looked at what other cities have done regarding their regulatory approaches. 

There are more signs like this around Regina than there were a decade ago, Regina Police say. (CBC)

Licensing the parlours would put the onus on the owners to comply with the regulations while protecting the privacy and safety of workers.

The parlours would also have to adhere to signage requirements, hours of operation and property appearance in order to not affect the character of a neighbourhood. 

The city suspects there are about 20 of these establishments.

The proposed changes will be debated at a special city council meeting on Sept. 23. If approved the new bylaw would come into effect by June 30, 2020.

The full report is available on the City of Regina website at regina.ca.

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