Whistler council votes to ban exotic dancing

Mayor says one local nightclub operator was making inquiries about offering strip shows

At a special meeting this week, just 23 days before the start of the 2010 Games, council voted to adopt a bylaw that effectively bans exotic dancing in the resort.

Mayor Ken Melamed said the issue came to the municipality's attention last week when a representative from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch advised municipal staff that a Whistler nightclub was making inquiries about providing exotic dancing.

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"I think there was a connection to the Olympics," Melamed said after Tuesday's (Jan. 19) special meeting where the bylaw was adopted. "This is not the time to be experimenting with a non-historical use in the Village."

Before Whistler's Exotic Dancing Control Bylaw was adopted this week, three separate bylaws dealing with exotic dancing were on the books at municipal hall -with each having made it only to third reading and not adoption. Melamed said at least two previous councils starting in 1996 were pursuing prohibition of exotic dancing in Whistler.

After being advised of the recent interest of at least one nightclub operator to offer exotic dancing, the decision was made with municipal staff to finish the process and adopt one of the bylaws, he said.

"It was decided that it was in the best interest of the community to adopt the bylaw as had been directed by (previous councils)," Melamed said.

The bylaw prohibits exotic dancing in all liquor primary establishments in Whistler and is effective immediately, according to a staff report prepared by Michael Kirkegaard, manager of resort planning.

The report says exotic dancing has been a "longstanding issue for the municipality" and "over the years" there have been inquiries about offering it in licensed establishments in the Village.

"Exotic dancing is not compatible with Whistler's vision, the resort experience and image that Whistler is pursuing," the report reads.

Exotic dancing was previously offered in Whistler at the Boot Pub, which closed in 2006 and was later demolished. Though previous bylaws provided for the use at the Boot, the bylaw adopted this week applies to all liquor primary licensed establishments within municipal boundaries.

According to the staff report, current liquor laws in B.C. don't place restrictions on the types of entertainment permitted at establishments with liquor primary licenses - which includes nightclubs, pubs and lounges. However, local governments can restrict or prohibit the types of entertainment permitted.

Though Olympic visitors won't be able to catch a strip show in Whistler, there's no shortage of strip clubs in the Vancouver area. According to clubzone.com there are 12 strip clubs in the Lower Mainland.

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