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Massage parlour terminology up for debate at St. John's city council

Coun. Maggie Burton amended city staff’s recommended motion to replace "body rub parlour" with the current term, "massage parlour." She said terminology around the service can be discussed at the public meeting on Nov. 6.
Coun. Maggie Burton amended city staff’s recommended motion to replace

City staff recommend ‘body rub parlour,’ council votes for status quo

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

For weeks since city council began discussions to lift the moratorium on massage parlours, the term used to discuss the service has consistently been "massage parlours." 

Coun. Maggie Burton said she wasn’t aware of any change in the terminology until she saw it on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting of council.

In the decision note to council, city staff wrote that due to concerns expressed by registered massage therapists, they propose replacing "massage parlour" with "body rub parlour," a term used in some other Canadian municipalities.

The decision note from staff recommended council consider the proposed text amendment to city regulations to allow body rub parlours in certain commercial zones in the city, and that a public meeting be held on the matter on Nov. 6 in the Foran/Greene Room at city hall, after which the final decision will come back to council to remove the moratorium on new development applications for body rub parlours.

Burton motioned to accept staff’s recommendation, but amend the motion to keep the current terminology of "massage parlour."

“For consistency’s sake,” Burton said, until the public meeting, at which point residents and stakeholders can discuss terminology.

Council voted unanimously in favour of Burton’s amended motion. 

“There are many different terms across North America that cities have used, and municipalities of all sizes, so I’m sure there’s a lot of options that we can look into together.” — Maggie Burton

Mayor Danny Breen said he and Coun. Debbie Hanlon are meeting with the Newfoundland and Labrador Massage Therapists’ Association to review the terminology, but in the meantime, he has no problem with the status quo, as it will be discussed at the public meeting.

After the council meeting, Burton told reporters she thinks all voices should be included in the conversation around what to call massage parlours in the text amendment to city regulations. 

“There are many different terms across North America that cities have used, and municipalities of all sizes, so I’m sure there’s a lot of options that we can look into together.”

Burton said she heard from sex workers on Monday who saw the terminology change in the council agenda. She said they told her they didn’t feel the term "body rub parlour" accurately describes the work they do.

Leading up to the public meeting, people who would prefer to submit their thoughts on massage parlours anonymously can email the city clerk. 

Coun. Ian Froude and Coun. Hope Jamieson both expressed concerns with providing a safe forum for all stakeholders to have an honest discussion.

City staff said all identifying information in written statements to the city is redacted before being included in public documents.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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