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Body rub parlours to be restricted to industrial areas in Regina

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

Body rub parlours in Regina will be restricted to industrial areas on the outskirts of the city’s core.

Council voted Monday night to classify the controversial establishments as a permitted use in parts of the city with that zoning.

“This is about the balance between competing perspectives,” Mayor Michael Fougere told reporters after the decision.

The decision followed presentations from a handful of delegations – most of whom were generally against body rub parlours.

READ MORE: Regina city council votes in favour of regulating body rub parlours

Heritage Community Association director Shayna Stock was the exception, reading from a written submission on behalf of three body rub parlour owner/operators who did not feel comfortable presenting their concerns publicly.

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The women self-identified in the submission as “first-generation immigrants of Asian heritage… mature independent ladies, mostly in [their] 40s.”

They explained that they are against limiting business to industrial areas, citing safety and financial implications.

“To punish us now by ghettoizing us to industrial zones is extremely unfair, robs us of our assets, seems prejudicial in nature, and in fact, will increase the dangers to us that council was reportedly trying to prevent.”

READ MORE: Regina aims to restrict body rub parlours to industrial areas only

Not all council members were for restricting the establishments to some of the more desolate areas of Regina.

“At the end of the day, where are these businesses safer?” asked Coun. Jerry Flegel. “I’m still not convinced putting them out in an industrial area is the right mix.”

Coun. Andrew Stevens made an unsuccessful motion to to allow body rub parlours to operate along major corridors, as many of the approximately 20 establishments currently do.

Couns. Lori Bresciani and Sharron Bryce said they felt like the discussion was going backward.

Bresciani noted there are other people aside from the parlour owners who don’t want them – other business owners and families.

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“I don’t want to muddy the waters and have everybody confused,” she said. “I want to just leave them in the industrial zones.”

Bresciani made a motion to extend the proposed one-block buffer zone separating body rub parlours from schools, day cares and other recreational gathering spaces to two blocks.

City staff will be reporting back on that.

“What does it actually mean in industrial areas? ” the mayor said to reporters. “Does it mean effectively a ban, perhaps? Or close to it? Before we vote on that we want to see what that looks like.”

This is all part of the city’s plan to regulate body rub parlours as opposed to ban them.

Municipal politicians are waiting on direction from staff around licensing, hours of operation and signage.

Staff are working to prepare a framework and are expected to report back early in the new year.