Escort Agency Bylaw Amendment
April 8, 2010
There is much discussion in the community regarding Escort Services and Adult Oriented Businesses. There seems to be a premise that a Council has the option to prevent escort agencies and or other adult oriented businesses based on morality issues.
A 1978 Supreme Court of Canada decision is the defining word on this question. The decision can be read here: Prince George v. Payne [PDF - 29 KB]
• Local governments cannot ban Escort Services and/or Adult Oriented Businesses from their communities on morality grounds.
• Local governments cannot use prohibitive fees and/or zoning restrictions to effectively ban Escort Services.
• Local governments can REGULATE Escort Services and stipulate where and how they can operate, but they must provide a zone somewhere in the community for that use.
• Council may prohibit any activity until a license is granted. But Council cannot refuse to issue a licence for morality grounds.
• A purpose of a zoning bylaw is to regulate land uses. While Council has the ability and power to prohibit uses in a zone, (i.e. a nuclear power plant) they do not have the authority to prohibit based on morality issues. It is unlawful to prohibit land use through the mechanism of a licensing regulation.
• While local governments have the authority to regulate businesses, the protection of community morality is not a legal ground to refuse a license for an otherwise lawful activity.
• A bylaw cannot infringe on criminal law, the purpose of the bylaw cannot be to "criminalize" behaviour or to "regulate morality."
• Bylaws that are adopted in bad faith, or that prohibit businesses when the local government is only allowed to regulate a business, will be quashed by the courts.
• Escort services and other Adult Oriented Businesses are not illegal businesses under the Criminal Code. In fact, adult prostitution is not a criminal offence.
Zoning Amendment Process
- Request for a Zoning Amendment is received.
Council considers the request and directs staff.
A report is prepared for Council with proposed changes and legal research for proposed changes.
- Amending Bylaws are prepared and presented to Council.
- Bylaws are given first and second readings. And a Public Hearing date is established.
- Public hearings are required and must be advertised for 2 weeks prior. Anyone who wishes to speak at a public hearing is permitted an opportunity to speak and make comment.
- Following public hearing, Council can make changes or amendments to the proposed bylaw if they wish, based on the Public Hearing information.
- Bylaws can receive 3rd reading after amendments have been made (if any). A bylaw cannot be amended after 3rd reading and before adoption.
- Any zoning amendment bylaw has to be sent out to MOT after 3rd reading (1 to 2 week's time)
- Zoning Bylaw may be adopted.