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Sylvan Lake discusses escort licensing

Escort agencies would be licensed, but rickshaws are out under bylaw changes being considered by Sylvan Lake town council.

It’s not that the town is anxious to see escort agencies set up shop in town, said Mayor Susan Samson.

However, without licence requirements in place, the town has no control over the businesses should they show up.

“The municipality doesn’t have the authority to exclude them because they are considered a legal business entity,” she said. “So the only thing we can do is put restrictions around it . . . so if it did ever occur it could be controlled so that we’re comfortable with it.”

Under proposed licensing rules, escort agencies would have to pay a $5,000 yearly fee and escorts $300. A record of escorts and information on each “introduction” and transaction that can be reviewed by peace officers may be required, as well as criminal background checks.

Escort agencies are among a number of “unique” businesses the town is considering regulating and bringing under the umbrella of its licensing bylaw. Regulations are also being crafted for tourist homes, mobile vendors, buskers, smoke shops, pawn shops and secondhand dealers.

To be left out of the bylaw are rickshaws or pedicabs.

Coun. Dale Plante made a proposal earlier this year to bring the human-powered taxis to town to cater to summer tourists.

Local RCMP and the town’s municipal enforcement department are not in favour, citing traffic hassles and safety concerns.

Samson said the only reasonable route for the rickshaws would be Lakeshore Drive, which has a speed limit of 30 km/h and few areas for rickshaws to pull over to pick up passengers.

“If they’re going down that road and they’re doing 10 km/h, they’re going to impede traffic.

“So we’re at this time not going to allow the operation of rickshaws in Sylvan Lake.”

Council earlier defeated changing the bylaw for rickshaws on a tie 3-3 vote, but decided to revisit it as part of the latest licence review. Plante has excused himself from all debate and votes on the issue because of his business interest.

Samson said town staff will come back with a draft of a licence bylaw early next year and the public will have an opportunity to comment.



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