07/18/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 09/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Saskatoon Red Light District? City To Vote On Zoning Bylaw For Massage Parlour, Escort Agencies

SASKATOON - Saskatoon city council will vote on a bylaw that dictates where escort agencies and massage parlours can set up shop.

But officials say it is not the creation of a red-light district.

The proposed bylaw to be voted on today says adult services would have to operate in light or heavy industrial areas.

An amendment also says those services can't be within 160 metres of a residential area, school, park or recreational facility.

Alan Wallace, the city's planning manager, says there is the perception that the move will create a red-light district.

But he says that's not the case.

"The adult services really isn't addressing prostitution. It's addressing other types of adult services like modelling lingerie, non-therapeutic massage, escort and dating services, and so on," Wallace said Tuesday.

"These are things that can be legally done today and what we're doing is bringing it into a regulated environment."

Saskatoon city council passed an adult services licensing bylaw earlier this year. Wallace said police requested the move so that they could ensure people working in the industry are legal age.

The adult services land use bylaw is the next step, he said.

"The first thing that does come up in peoples mind is red-light districts. But what we're trying to do is leave enough flexibility in the zoning bylaw that there's a range of choices," said Wallace.

"The industrial zones that we have identified for these uses to locate are spread throughout the city. They're not concentrated in any one part of the city, although we have a very large industrial area in the north. There's industrial areas on both sides of the river in Saskatoon, basically in all quadrants of the city.

"So there's enough location choice available through the zoning bylaw that we feel that there wouldn't be a concentration in any one given district at all."

Several other Canadian cities, including Calgary, have similar bylaws. Wallace said this is believed to be the first adult services zoning bylaw in Saskatchewan.

Wallace said some cities have a larger separation zone than the proposed 160 metres. That won't work in Saskatoon, he said.

"We think it's an adequate separation from those uses. It won't offend anyone that has a residence outside 160 (metres). They probably wouldn't even be able to see them at that distance," he said.

"If we get too restrictive, it starts to push them...into an area rather, and then it has a greater potential to create a red-light district or a concentration of adult services."

If the bylaw is approved, it comes into effect immediately.

Wallace said another amendment which would separate adult services from each other could be considered in the fall. That would ensure no adult services are located within 160 metres of each other or basically within the same block, he said.

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