Edmonton councillor wants body rub parlours closed during pandemic to stay that way

Edmonton city councillor Jon Dziadyk wants to keep the body rub parlours that are closed now because of COVID-19, closed for good.

He has started putting the wheels in motion to have the issue raised at the next city council meeting on May 11, when he’ll introduce a motion to ask for a report on what steps can be taken to achieve that.

“Administration was looking at the eventual wind down in five to 10 years,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday with Global News.

“What I’m asking is: can this be accelerated?”

Dziadyk said the work of an Edmonton city task force in 2018 created rules out of “a place of harm reduction,” however he now sees an opportunity that has never existed before.

“That was all business as usual pre-COVID-19 and nothing is going to be same after this.

The report that council’s community services committee based its review on suggests the Body Rub Centres Task Force Implementation Team made significant improvements towards harm reduction and physical safety at licensed body rub parlours over the past two years.

Dziadyk knows if the city closes them down for good, they’ll simply be driven “underground,” however he said enforcement teams can adapt.

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“Most of the services are advertised online and there’s opportunity for enforcement to happen, through following up on advertisements that are being made.”

“Who knows where the committee would go with this eventually? New information would be brought forward and ultimately there seems to a will to wind these down.

“But without political intervention, we won’t have an opportunity to accelerate the closure.”

In 2016, city council made 26 recommendations for the team to pursue. The team focused on improving education, health and safety.

As of June 2018, there was a 99 per cent compliance rate, with 345 parlours being licensed and the task force encountering two unlicensed establishments.

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