News / Edmonton

City won't make ID mandatory, but will look at cutting licensing fees for body rub practitioners

If the changes are approved, fees could drop to zero

City officials voted to not make ID'ing clients mandatory at body rub parlours.

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City officials voted to not make ID'ing clients mandatory at body rub parlours.

City councillors will not make it mandatory for body rub customers to show identification, but did vote Monday to consider slashing business licensing fees for all adult entertainment businesses, which includes escorts and exotic entertainers.

Back in June, advocates asked council to require customers to show ID, arguing that eliminating customer anonymity would protect sex workers.

But the members of the Community and Public Services Committee took the advice of administration Monday, who said most people in the industry feared it would drive business underground.

A city survey of body rub centre owners and practitioners found that 89 per cent disagreed with making ID mandatory.

“ID'ing customers would have been ridiculous. It would have closed down the parlours to be sure but it wouldn’t have stopped prostitution,” said Mona, a body rub centre owner and worker who declined to use her last name.  

“It would have just gone underground, which is exactly not where the city of Edmonton wants us. They want to know who we are.”

Jenny Kain, director of family and community support with citizen services, told Metro on Friday that they'd heard the same concern from other owners.

“That would risk putting the safety of practitioners and clients at greater risk,” he said

The committee did propose cutting business licensing fees for adult entertainment practitioners, which would make it easier for them to get a license and undergo security checks.

The current licensing fee is $1,083 for a body rub centre and $230 for a practitioner, which, if approved by council, would be reduced to zero.

Mona said compliance rates will "soar" if the fees are reduced.

“They were just adding insult to injury to people that couldn’t afford the licenses and now were hitting them with heavy fines. How is this good?” she added.

Until then however, the fine for unlicensed practitioner will remain at $1000.

Body rub owner Jonathan Kuyt disagrees however, arguing the city said instead enforce current bylaws and target illegal operations.

“Body rub centres are the city's safest alternative to working in this business. Period,” he said

The proposal about fees will go to city council on Dec 2.


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