'Body rub parlours' pitched as St. John's considers renaming massage parlours

The City of St. John's is considering changing the name of massage parlours to body rub parlours, after hearing complaints about possible confusion.

A proposal prepared by city staff was put forward by Coun. Maggie Burton at Tuesday night's council meeting.

"Due to concerns expressed by registered massage therapists, staff proposed replacing massage parlour with body rub parlour — a term used in other cities," said Burton.

The council document cited larger centres like Toronto and Vancouver using the body rub parlour wording.

Burton said Mayor Danny Breen would be meeting with registered massage therapists to discuss the name change. 

Burton, though, said she's heard from some people who aren't happy with the proposal.

"I have heard from some sex workers since they saw it on the agenda," she said. "They don't feel it accurately describes the work that they do."

Last month, council voted to lift a four-year ban on massage parlours, pending the approval of changes to development regulations — including a number of restrictions on where message parlours can be located in the city. 

Jeremy Eaton/CBC

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it's also in talks with both the city and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, around health and safety regulations.

Those fall under the province's jurisdiction, and Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh has said they may need to be changed to ensure the safety of people who work in massage parlours. 

Meanwhile, Burton said there is a meeting planned for Nov. 6 to let the public weigh in on the move. 

"The definition of the massage parlour, or the body rub parlour, or whatever it is that it's called, can be discussed at the public meeting, and between now and then, informally with our community stakeholders as well," Burton said.

However, people don't have to attend the meeting to speak on what some might call a sensitive issue.

"Any feedback on this decision can be submitted through the city clerk's office and all personal identifying information is redacted," Burton said.

"So anyone can submit something and their name will not be released to the public." 

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