Regina City Council says no to strips clubs… for now
The motion was voted down 9 to 1
Author: Britin Cote – Contributor
Early last week, the City of Regina was divided on a matter deemed Adults Only. On Jan. 26, city council held a meeting to determine if the Whisky Saloon bar would be permitted to become the new location of Regina’s one and only adult entertainment establishment in which alcohol would be served while dancers performed. This surely classy establishment became possible with the liquor law changes in Saskatchewan, one in particular that allows the serving of alcohol during strip tease performances and wet T-shirt contests, although full frontal nudity is still not permitted, apparently the Free the Nipple Campaign hasn’t reached the prairies yet. During the meeting, 20 five-minute speeches were made directly to the council as citizens were given the chance to voice their opinion of what businesses would occur in the community.
Shawn Fraser, City Councillor of Ward 3, was present from the vote and took the time to shed some light on what happened.
“It was a complicated decision for everyone on the council, but in the end, it ended up being voted down by nine to one.”
When asked who advocated for the business, Shawn said, “The only person speaking in favor was the person actually proposing to open the business”.
Not fully satisfied with the decision, he went on to say, “Ultimately, [what] I’d like to see is the city to recognize and regulate this industry versus ignore it and pretend it’s just not here”.
Regina city bylaws require permission to be granted before a business can be established, assuming it meets the required criteria. When involving mature subject, such as this, the business must be at least 183 meters from religious institutions, residential areas, schools, parks, and several other buildings.
Read our previous coverage on Bill C-36 and some of the debate on the controversial Bill.
The dimly lit, and far out of the way Park Street location meets such standards. While the vote has determined that the zoning permit will not be granted to Bryan Gottfredsen, the applicant, this does very little to affect the adult industry already here in Regina.
Fraser continued with, “The industry is here whether we like it or not. This is one fellow who went through a channel to try to do it, and if you look at a phone book or online or take a walk through downtown Regina, that industry is here and there’s lots of examples of it in each neighbourhood.”
The Queen City is no stranger to prostitution, escorting, or paying women to serve in their underwear.
“I can think of at least six massage parlours that presumably should fall into that area located in residential areas. Some of these are close to churches and they’re still happening and, to me, the impression was that this is the council saying no to the adult entertainment industry in Regina. That’s not really true,” Said Fraser.
A major concern raised was the issue of safety for the dancers. Crystal Giesbrecht from Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), spoke against the building.
“We’re concerned about the harmful effects that a strip club would have in the city, not only on girls and women, but boys and men as well.” She went on to say, “Violence against women is a problem in Saskatchewan, where we currently have the highest rates of sexual assault among the provinces as well as the highest rate of intimate partner violence.”
Giesbrecht and her colleagues at PATHS took a firm stance against the business and comprised a letter to city council with 65 signatures of others with a like-mind view of the establishment. The letter comprised some disturbing statistics, like how “44 per cent of the women reported that the men threatened to hurt them, with a range of 3 to 150 such threats.” Other offences include rape and physical harm threats and customers stalking workers.
With the impending bodily harm of the dancers come the issue of morality. From PATHS perceptive, “A strip club in Regina sends the message that women are available for purchase for men’s sexual entertainment. This sends dangerous messages to young men about healthy relationships and respect for women and girls.”
Will a strip club ultimately lead to the degradation and abuse of women? Darlene Juschka, coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Regina, holds a different opinion.
“There is a stigma associated with this particular kind of work. Folks are working and they are making a living. They remove part of their clothing, so what? It’s a part of the kind of dance they do; it’s part of their labour and part of their work.”
When asked about the raised questions of morality of the club, she said, “It’s the stigma around dancing and sexuality. The conversation is always around women, and they’re always treated as sex workers and prostitutes. They focus on rescue and not rights. Female sexuality has to be controlled, and if it’s uncontrolled, it’s stigmatized.”
Juschka’s view is that of an advocate of the employees’ rights.
“I don’t think there’s real honesty in the conversations going on, and I don’t think the sex workers’ rights and exotic dancer workers’ rights, I don’t think they’re on the table. I don’t think the concern is about them and that’s what bothers me about this.” She adds, “Their job doesn’t define them as a whole person.”
Juschka mentions the potential benefits to an increasingly regulated adult industry.
“It gives them some security there’s all sorts of things that need to happen like unionizing. Let’s strengthen people.”
This is only one instance of a proposal being rejected, even though it addressed all the city bylaws and stipulations. The situation seems to have been determined by the landslide of opposition. With increased public awareness on the subject, no doubt someone in the near future will attempt another legal pursuit to open their own adult entertainment establishment. If the safety of the workers could be more clearly addressed and dealt with, then there is really nothing standing in the way of Regina having its own strip club. Legally, there is nothing prohibiting it.