Volume 94, Issue 2

Friday, May 19, 2000


New student code of conduct drafted

UWOFA talks could mean deal

Private universities plan announced

New buildings put under microscope

Mental giants make presence felt at fair

Petition tries to rub out massage parlours

Prelude to an election

Council passes new arena proposal

Ravers get cold shower

Petition tries to rub out massage parlours

By Colleen Ross
Gazette Writer

A London city councillor has taken up the torch in a campaign to get municipalities to ban massage parlors, amidst mixed reactions from colleagues.

At Monday night's City Council meeting, Ward 4 councillor Bill Armstrong presented a petition with the names of 350 supporters calling for provincial action to stamp out body rub businesses.

But to achieve the goal, the provincial government would first have to amend legislation to give the City the right to ban massage parlours, he explained.

Armstrong said he felt the petition was warmly received by council. However, while several councillors support the move to do something about body rub parlours, some do not share Armstrong's vision of a parlour-free community.

Bud Polhill, also a Ward 4 councillor, said City Council must deal with citizens' concerns, but should take another approach. "This [provincial] government will just put it on the back burner," he said. He added the community can take other measures to restrict the locations and number of parlours. He also said parlours could be set up only where there was a large parking lot, away from residential areas.

Ward 2 Councillor Joe Swan said he supports the push, but is not optimistic. "I'm supportive of the directives, but I think the chances [of reaching the provincial government] are slim to none," he stated.

Megan Walker, Ward 5 Councillor, who serves as the executive director of the London Battered Women's Advocacy Centre, also said regulating body parlours makes more sense than banning them outright. "To force them out of the city would only force them underground," Walker said.

She added such businesses, if forced to do business illegitimately, would no longer adhere to present standards that protect women working in the sex trade, many of whom have no other job options. A bylaw passed by council last year provides safety and health protection through regulations, Walker explained.

Armstrong said massage parlours did not exist five years ago and the community can be free of them again if a concerted effort is put forth. He cited the community of Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, as one that has already passed the kind of resolution he is seeking.

"As a community, we will make sure there are opportunities to help workers," he said of the potential displacement of massage parlour workers.

Detective Sgt. Will Kranston of the London Police, said he doubts the City will be able to ban the parlours, since it has legalized them by issuing licenses.

But Armstrong said he has supporters in high places, including Frank Mazzilli, the Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament for London-Fanshawe. The petition also has the support of provincial New Democratic Party leader Howard Hampton, who has agreed to present the petition to Queen's Park within the next few months, Armstrong said.

Armstrong added in the meantime, he will continue his efforts to gain support by circulating the petition.

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