A new proposal from the City of Winnipeg calls on the council to cut some royalty fees for those who work as escorts and in personal care salons.
In addition, security cameras and panic alarms would have to be installed in the salons.
While a city report predicts the changes would increase security, it’s not clear whether the council will approve them, as two city councils were quick to reject the plan for different reasons.
Specifically, the proposal will: reduce annual license fees for individual body massage practitioners and companions to $ 25 (down from $ 371); Conducting a mandatory briefing session for staff on police, health and social services resources; and add a new $ 25 registration fee for employees in companies who are not licensed body massage practitioners or escorts – all of which would go into effect on October 4th.
From the same date, new security measures would become mandatory for body laundries, which require a functioning surveillance camera system in the reception areas. Panic alarms would also need to be installed in all rooms used by practitioners.
Count. Protection committee chairman Sherri Rollins said she would try to remove the section on the two “adult-oriented companies” from the report, which includes changes for other industries as well.
Rollins said she was concerned that the report characterizes escorts and personal carers as inherently vulnerable, which is inconsistent with the feedback she has received from the industry.
“Right off the bat, (the report) really draws a line (connects) escort and vulnerable person … I can’t support the way you have grouped and characterized this whole business,” she said.
The councilor said she feared the changes could actually result in fewer companies applying for city licenses and more unregulated.
“Will this lead to more people applying for a license? I think the answer is no. Will this mean security for industry representatives? I think the answer is no. ”
City spokeswoman Joelle Schmidt said the changes were designed with security in mind.
“Research and judicial practices have shown that video surveillance and alarms are a best practice and increase security for staff,” Schmidt said in a statement sent via email.
Affected business owners who don’t add the cameras or alarms could face a $ 300 fine. If the changes are approved, city officials would also review the zone restrictions that currently allow an adult-oriented business license only in the downtown area.
Count. Scott Gillingham said he also plans to vote against the changes for these two types of businesses that would require council approval because of his industry concerns.
Gillingham said the city’s decision to license “companies known to buy sexual services” could have legal ramifications.
“The basic question I have or struggle with is that by issuing a license, the city is validating the environment for which some people can be exploited?” said Gillingham.
The Council Executive Committee is expected to take the first vote on the proposed changes on June 16.
Joyanne was born and raised in Winnipeg and loves telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became the City Hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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