Regina city council votes in favour of regulating body rub parlours

During Regina council's executive committee meeting Wednesday, municipal politicians debated licensing body rub parlours, like the ones pictured in this file photo. Dave Parsons / Global News

Regina city council voted 6-5 in favour of licensing body rub establishments on Monday night rather than banning them altogether.

Council and administration listened to 13 delegates speak, many calling for an outright ban.

“The issue is to allow the police and our inspectors to get into those buildings to see what is actually happening to these workers,” said Michael Fougere, Regina mayor.

‘There’s human trafficking happening, there’s lots of exploitation, just some not very safe things happening in these establishments.”

One of the delegates was Lisa Miller, Regina Sexual Assault Centre’s executive director.

READ MORE: Regina council to decide on proposed changes to bylaw affecting massage parlours

And now that the city has deemed these establishments as proper businesses moving forward, she hopes owners will be investigated.

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“We would be asking for the city to look at criminal record checks and pretty thorough background checks on individuals that are proposing to open a business,” Miller said.

“Who are these individuals? Where is the money coming from?”

READ MORE: City of Regina working on massage parlour bylaw

But for many, seeing these types of establishments gone from the city would be the “right” decision.

“If you remove them from the city, that reduces the supply, it’s out of sight out of mind. Not as many people would attend, therefore less women involved and are safer as a result,” said Devon Hill, Freedom Catalyst Regina member.

“Prostitution itself is 100 per cent illegal for the buyers and owners involved.”

Miller said she believes the people running these parlours could also be deeply involved in organized crime taking place in and around the city.

WATCH: Regina currently working on bylaw to better govern illicit massage parlours (September 2018) 

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Regina massage parlours – Sep 26, 2018

“If you look at the research, it’s pretty clear that businesses like these are tied to organized crime and that brings with it some interesting dynamics around firearms and other safety issues for the community,” Miller said.

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Regina police have said in the past, it would be easier to combat human trafficking if these establishments were properly regulated.

Issues regarding location and properly distinguishing the difference between massage parlour services and actual therapeutic massage were part of the regulations that moved forward on Monday night.

The city believes there are 21 body rub establishments in Regina.

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