In a historic decision on Monday night, Regina City Council voted 9-1 to DENY the application to open a strip club in our great city. This is historic for many reasons, but a major reason that few are talking about is the fact that City Hall basically just overruled the Provincial Government (remember their best buddies in the world, the Sask Party?), who in January 2014 introduced new legislation allowing alcohol to be served in an adult entertainment facility.
I want to make it perfectly clear for all readers, that I am neither for or against strip clubs. I'm not going to pretend I haven't been to them in my life, but I also don't make it a habit to attend them, as I have much better options for entertainment in my life. Same as why I don't frequent night clubs, the symphony or hockey games - they just aren't my thing.
For me, it is about whether or not the business meets the (rather strict) requirements set out. PERIOD.
City Council went against City Hall Administration's own recommendation to APPROVE the request, and went against their own bylaws by denying this application. Granted, for discretionary use applications, City Council does have the right to exercise their "discretion" of approval, but without reasonable justification, this is best used selectively. Otherwise, what's the point of even having these kinds of bylaws in the first place?
There are some great observations already made by some of Regina's prominent media personalities, so I won't repeat what they've said, since they've done a great job at making points that I would just repeat here. Here are some of them:
104.9 The Wolf - Drew Dalby Blog (EXCELLENT POST ANSWERING THE CRITICISMS)
Prairie Dog Magazine - Paul Dechene - Nudie Bars and Old White Dudes
Prairie Dog Magazine - Wanda Schmockel - No Strip Club for you, Regina
Now, keep in mind, the idea of a Strip Club in Regina is nothing new. After all, we've had strippers in an established facility for many years in the industrial area. I don't think they are around anymore, but Regina has in fact been home to stripping for a long time already. The only difference here is the introduction of alcohol to the mix. Which every - other - part - of - the - developed - world already has, and have had for years, if not decades. I should add that I do believe the new legislation is actually even more restrictive than before, in that the strippers can no longer go fully nude.
Regarding the nineteen delegations (which I am sure are related to each other in one form or another - most likely all attendees of the same church), if these people truly have a problem with the morality of strip clubs, they should have brought it to the province's attention years ago. City Council should only approve or deny based on the business aligning with City bylaws and neighbourhood regulations, which to my knowledge, this application very much did. I have great sympathy for the business owner here, in that he jumped through all the hoops and hurdles already set out for him, and still they changed their mind at the very last minute - literally. I sincerely hope he is not out any money because of their decision, or he may very well have a legal case against City Hall.
Going forward, City Hall is setting a very dangerous precedent here. By no means are they forced to approve any application, but they ought to have very good justification for denying such applications. Similar to the Official Community Plan guiding development throughout the City and them allowing developments that completely contradict that OCP. Oh...wait. They do that all the time!
Finally for today, personally, I would much rather these clubs be in high traffic areas, than forced into the remote industrial areas. This would provide a safer environment for staff and patrons leaving the establishment. It would also reduce the risk of questionable behavior happening outside of the club in a higher traffic location.
On a sidenote, I have heard there were some pretty ridiculous statements made by none other than Wade Murray and a couple of my other "favourite" City Councillors. Things such as "this is a great day to be a part of a municipal government" and "this is the heart of Regina right here" (Referrring to the delegations I believe). Yet, when over 20,000 residents OPPOSED the Waste Water Treatment Plant, or the nearly 10,000 residents OPPOSED the Stadium Project, they were deemed to be the "vocal minority".
I find it very ironic how the very same kind of opposition can be viewed in such drastically opposite lights, given your own personal stance on a subject, I suppose.