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Warren Waycheshen explained to Council the research the staff has been doing into the escort service as a legal business.
REPORTING · 22nd January 2013
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat’s proposed new business, the Escort Service, has been a hot topic around town. A letter sent to Council by the Ministerial Association of Kitimat was brought up under New Business by Councillor Edwin Empinado on Monday, January 21st.

The letter, signed by Pastor Don Read of the Mountainview Alliance Church thanked Council for the work they have done for Kitimat and asks them to serve the whole community, the healthy as well as the most defenceless and disenfranchised.

“With the recent application for [a] licensing of an Escort Services, we are gravely concerned that this kind of business erodes the very foundation of what makes Kitimat such a great place to live and grow. A community is only as strong as its ability to care for the most vulnerable and it is sad to say that such businesses have a reputation of preying on the most at risk members of [a] community. We also believe that any deemed benefits would be heavily outweighed by the damage to our families, safety and [the] community as a whole,” wrote Read. “So we want to encourage you as you navigate the legalities of business applications to continue to consider the community as a whole as you serve on our behalf. We are holding you in our prayers.”

Empinado made a motion for the letter to be received and brought back by Administration for comments. Municipal Manager Ron Poole stated they were receiving feedback from the community on this topic. The Deputy CAO, Warren Waycheshen and the Deputy Treasurer, Lyle McNish, will be bringing them back to Council at a later date.

Empinado thanked administration for legal updates which were given to Council and which came from small communities because it was helpful and answered his questions from the Committee of the Whole Meeting last Monday.

Waycheshen stepped up to the plate to inform City Council about what the District Administration has been looking into.

“We definitely got a lot of questions about the legality of businesses and such. We are bound by all legislation, the Charter of Rights and Freedom and all the other ones, with the [Community] Charter, that is really our enabling legislation. When it comes to business licenses, we are very limited in what we can actually prohibit, we can regulate somewhat,” said Waycheshen.

He expressed if people have rooms or suites which are available to rent, they can request the landlords to keep a register of the people living there. People who are working in used or second hand goods can be told not to alter those goods and they have to let the Chief Constable know before they sell them.

“For straight prohibitions, we have professional athletic contests like Professional Boxing [and] Professional Wrestling, Public Shows, Exhibitions, Carnivals of that nature and places of amusement to which the public has access, including public halls and other buildings where public events are held. Those are really the only areas where we have legislation, where we can actually prohibit business,” said Waycheshen.

He expressed escort services are legal businesses so what Administration can do is decide what are the requirements they could put on the business so people know how they could apply for a business license for an escort service. They do not have the ability to prohibit an escort service.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know if the business would have to get a business license because they are working out of Prince George. She was told it is standard practice for a business which is operating out of a community to get a business license for the community they are operating from.

Monaghan clarified because the head office would be a call in centre in Prince George. Waycheshen replied they would have to look into the specifics but if they are operating, advertising and doing things in the community, they would need to have a business license.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know when a draft bylaw would return to Council for debate. He was told the next step would be to bring a bylaw back. The bylaws right now do not have any definition for an escort service. It will probably come back to a Committee of the Whole. Then it will come back for readings and adoption. If there are any major changes, it will go to public hearing.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked if it will go to public hearing. He was told Council could choose to do a public hearing. There are conditions for a mandatory public hearing. If Council wishes, they could have a public hearing even if it isn’t statutorily required.

With no further discussion and no motion, Council prepared for their in camera meeting.