Massage parlours in Regina could soon be referred to as “body rub establishments,” due to potential amendments to a local bylaw.
The City of Regina will consider a number of changes including definitions in the Zoning Bylaw at their Executive Committee on Jun 12.
Changes to the bylaw would distinctly differentiate between registered massage therapists and massage parlours providing sexual services.
“Defining between therapeutic massage and body rubs, they would have to produce evidence that they have registered therapeutic massage workers, whereas the other ones wouldn’t,” said Diana Hawryluk, City of Regina executive director of city planning and community development.
“Those are things that would help us regulate it when we go in to get evidence.”
Changes would also include developing licensing agreements to regulate hours of operation, health and safety standards, working training and support.
“It brings a picture of police, health, fire and other outreach services into this sector where it’s never been in before,” said Corey Zaharuk, Regina Police Service superintendent.
“Our opportunities to assist some of these vulnerable folks who work in the sector increases dramatically.”
WATCH: Regina currently working on bylaw to better govern illicit massage parlours (September, 2018)
Another proposed change would apply a block separation system similar to cannabis retail outlets, under which the business would need to be one block away from schools, churches and day cares.
“We felt following those same separation distances would be suitable, but it something council could debate if they decide to move forward with the proposals,” Hawryluk said.
The City says it has received complaints regarding these types of business in the past, but shutting them down isn’t that easy.
In 2014, changes were made to Canada’s prostitution laws making it illegal to purchase sexual services, but not to charge those selling them.
“Prohibiting the sale of sex or the prevention or punishment of human trafficking is a criminal law purpose,” Hawryluk said.
“Any bylaw activated for these purposes is likely to be struck down as encroaching on the federal jurisdiction.”
The other change would see the City continue to allow body rub establishments to operate at their discretion in industrial areas and would apply the same rules to commercial areas.
The City has said in the past they believe Regina is home to 21 “body rub parlours” and an industry that continues to grow.
City council can vote to approve the changes at their June 24th council meeting. If approved, the changes to the bylaw could be enforced by December 2020.