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St. John's massage parlour ban to remain, for now

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen.
St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen. - The Telegram

Mayor Danny Breen isn’t ruling out revisiting massage parlour moratorium

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen isn’t ruling out reversing a ban on permits for adult massage parlours, but there’s a lot to consider before the idea hits the council table.

In 2015, the ban was introduced to stop the city from allowing more adult massage parlours to open in St. John’s. Residents were concerned at the time about a massage parlour on Wood Street.

Breen says he won’t say no to revisiting the idea, but there are no immediate plans.

“Anything can be revisited at any time. The moratorium was brought in because of the issues around the residents who were having problems in the residential areas, as well as commercial areas,” said Breen.

“The moratorium was brought in at that time for that reason. If it’s to be revisited, then it would go through council.”

Ward 2 Coun. Hope Jamieson has been working with the Living in Community committee that’s been in place for the last three months. The committee has been bringing together residents, business owners, city officials, police and sex workers to try to find solutions to difficult questions surrounding street-based sex work.

Jamieson says lifting the moratorium could be part of the solution to issues surrounding street-based sex work, which right now is concentrated in the Long’s Hill-Tessier Park area.

“I think there is will among residents to have more of the sex trade move indoors, which can’t happen in the environment where there’s a moratorium on massage parlours,” said Jamieson.

“It is in the public interest to move more of the sex trade indoors. It is in the interest of the safety of sex workers to move more of the sex trade indoors. But if we’re going to do that we need to look at including the massage parlour in the development regulations.”

Jamieson says the solution may be to allow massage parlours to open in development zones away from residential areas. The idea would be to allow adult massage parlours in some kind of commercial zone.

“I think that’s a tidy way to reconcile the concerns of the industry and concerns of residents,” said Jamieson.

Residents in the area have been calling for street-based sex work to be removed from the Long’s Hill area. Jamieson says that solution has been tried before and only serves to move the problems, not solve them.

“I struggle with the question of ‘can we just move them’ because what we don’t need is more disappeared women. I think if we’re going to work with various groups to change where the majority of street-level sex work takes place, then that needs to take place in consultation with residents, the RNC and, most importantly, with sex workers,” said Jamieson.

“I’m not interested in a sledgehammer approach here. I don’t think that’s how we gain a long-term solution.”

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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