Separate requests to bring two additional adult entertainment licences to Dundas Place have hit another road block after they failed to garner an endorsement from councillors on London, Ont., community and protective services committee.
On Tuesday, the committee heard from downtown residents and business owners who expressed multiple concerns about two applications requesting that a licence for a strip club business and a licence for an adult massage parlour be relocated between Clarence Street and Wellington Street.
Specifically, one application planned to relocate the adult live entertainment licence to Lavish, an LGBTQ2 nightclub at 238 Dundas St.
The second application, filed by an unrelated company, outlined an adult massage parlour to move to a vacant building down the street at 232 Dundas.
“It’s not what downtown needs,” stressed Marvin Post, owner of Attic Books at 240 Dundas St., and neighbour of Lavish. “We would have three adult entertainment locations within half a block.”
Solid Gold live entertainment club currently sits on the southeast corner of Dundas Street.
In a statement to the committee on Tuesday, Lavish wrote that the business “has no intention of using this license for anything other than entertainment purposes outside of existing weekly programs.”
“This license allows for our entertainers to exercise their creative freedom as members of the LGBTQ2+ drag community seek to push the boundaries of their performances which also allows for Lavish to seek out performances that enhance what we offer to the community for entertainment,” the statement continued.
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Last week, the city addressed an error found in the title of the July 27 Notice of Public Meeting that suggested that the two proposed licences were connected. A corrected notice was later sent out on Aug. 3.
Lavish stressed in its statement that there is no link between the two applications, acknowledging that city hall has a limit on the number of these licences that can be permitted in London.
“If the city were to modify its licence definitions to be more inclusive, we may be able to look at alternative licence categories that better express our desires,” read the statement. “But until council updates the definitions to better reflect the diversity of this community, this is our most accurate avenue to represent the venue and the performances within it.”
However, Coun. John Fyfe-Millar said he believes these relocations violate “one of the pillars” in council’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan in ensuring a “safe community for women and girls.”
“We know full well that an adult entertainment licence does the complete opposite of that,” he said. “It feeds on vulnerable individuals, and that does not bode well for a community that’s trying to rebuild the downtown.”
Coun. Shawn Lewis, current ward councillor for the proposed licence locations and the only LGBTQ2 member on council, echoed similar concerns, saying, “This is not a matter of LGBTQ2+ inclusion.”
“Our licensing bylaw speaks to an adult entertainment location, and it is specific to a property,” he explained. “So, the question to me is not how Lavish would manage this licence, it’s would Lavish even continue to exist for very long and, if it were not to continue, what would the future of this building be?
“I am concerned about what could come next.”
Fyfe-Millar added that he does “not see this as beneficial for Dundas Place.”
The committee unanimously recommended that council oppose both licence requests and a final decision will be made on Sept. 6.