Sunday, January 25, 2009

Too Bad for the Good People of Chilliwack

Well, I guess it's most likely going to happen. I doubt anyone will be out there representing us dancers at the city council meeting. I got my say in the media but due to medical reasons, I will not converge on Chilliwack tomorrow afternoon with my opinions.

But I appreciate being asked by the reporter from the Chilliwack Progress. ;)

Council eyes stripper ban
By Jennifer Feinberg - Chilliwack Progress
Published: January 19, 2009 6:00 PM
Public hearing set for Jan. 26

Chilliwack may soon have a bylaw that closes the door behind the last strippers in local watering holes.

Two bylaws were drafted for council’s consideration, and a public hearing on the rezoning bylaw is set for Jan. 26 at city hall.

“We have been working on this for a long time,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

“As soon as we heard about it, (the introduction of exotic dancers at The Vault last August), we sought legal advice from counsel to see what could be done.

“We also educated ourselves on the whole issue of how it affects a community, in terms of the connection to organized crime and criminal activity in the area.”

However, council will listen carefully to every point of view at the public hearing next week before it makes its final decision.

“Our minds have to be open, by legislation, so anyone who wants to come and speak to this, we will listen,” Gaetz added.

Annie Temple of the Naked Truth, said she was disappointed by council’s actions, in part since she spends a fair amount of her time countering damaging stereotypes about strippers.

“When strip clubs close down, it means less safe work options for women. This is a feminist issue and a human rights one,” Temple told The Progress. “Exotic Dancing is a valid and legal, non-contact option for women.”

Chilliwack council is taking a two-pronged approach. The crux of the new zoning bylaw will prohibit the presence of exotic dancers whenever alcohol is served in licensed establishments.
“These kinds of tactics are extremely harmful to the exotic dance industry because they not only take our jobs, but they really drive home that we are considered disposable by our governments and fellow citizens,” said Temple.

She started up the website, Naked, which is devoted to information-sharing and empowerment for dancers across B.C.

The second method council is looking at involves a regulatory bylaw using the municipal ticketing system, under provisions of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
But Temple said council should concentrate on how the bylaws will ultimately impact workers’ livelihoods.

“I hope the residents of Chilliwack will attend the city council meeting and show their support for having safe work options for women in their community,” she added. “It is not the place of elected officials to eliminate the livelihood of an already marginalized population of women workers – women who pay their taxes and vote.

“It is their place to maintain safe work options and support businesses that are doing the same.”
Gaetz said city council was relieved to hear from the struggling downtown bar owner that the stripper experiment last summer wasn’t really a financial success.

“The good news is apparently from a business point of view, it hasn’t been sustainable,” she said. “Most people did not think it was a good thing for Chilliwack, and many people took exception to it being right downtown.”

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