Regina city council's executive committee has voted in favour of licensing body rub parlours in the city.
After a heated and debate-filled two-hour meeting, committee members voted five to four to license the establishments.
The recommendations the committee voted in favour of are stricter than what was originally presented. The committee changed the licensing fee to $1,200 per year, instead of the proposed $630, and once again discussed whether the establishments should be allowed in the city.
"I'm opposed right from the start of licensing for an illegal activity, and that is what we are looking at doing here," Ward 7 Coun. Sharron Bryce said.
"In my mind, it says that that we're OK with licensing the sex trade, and I'm not OK with that."
Mayor Michael Fougere said it has been a long process to get to this point, and he did not support it at the beginning.
"I struggled with this," Fougere said during the meeting.
But he said he believes the harm-reduction strategy is not an attempt to license criminal activity, but an effort to improve public safety.
The changes the committee made will increase public safety with relation to zoning and licensing, Fougere said.
Now that the recommendations have passed the executive committee, they will go before city council at the end of the month. If the proposal is approved, owners and workers at body run parlours would have to:
- Have government-issued photo ID showing their legal name and proving they are at least 18 years old.
- Provide a list of all aliases or pseudonyms.
- Complete the Body Rub Establishment education program.
- Be legally able to work in Canada.
- Be approved by the Regina Police Service.
- Pay a licence fee of $1,200 for owners or $100 for workers.
The Body Rub Establishment Education program is set to be delivered by the Regina Sexual Assault Centre.
Training topics include basic sexual health, personal safety, identifying human trafficking risks, overdose awareness, sexual assault programs, safe shelter, how to exit the industry if desired and bylaw regulations.
Edmonton has had a similar training program for four years.
The Regina planning commission is also meeting on Wednesday afternoon. One of the first reports it will consider regards allowing YWCA Regina to develop its new space in Lucy Eley Park in the Cathedral area.
City council already voted to gift the land, valued at $2 million, to the YWCA. If approved, the development ideas will be put to a vote at the city council meeting on Aug. 26.
Also on the commission's schedule is a debate on heritage buildings. One building's owner is requesting it be added to the heritage building list, while the owner of another is requesting their property removed.
The Cameron & Heap Wholesale Grocery building at 1938 Dewdney Ave. has been recommended for municipal heritage property designation. The property would still need final approval at the August city council meeting.
The application was done on behalf of the owner. Heritage Regina wrote a letter of support for the designation.
"Constructed in 1912, the Cameron & Heap Wholesale Grocery building is one of the oldest warehouse structures still in existence in the Warehouse District," the letter said.
Meanwhile, the owner of the Bagshaw Residence at 56 Angus Cresc. has applied for it to be removed from the heritage inventory. The owner has applied for a demolition permit. The permit is on hold for 60 days while council considers the heritage significance.
Both Heritage Regina and the Cathedral Area Community Association wrote letters opposing removing 56 Angus Cresc. from the inventory and against the demotion of the property.