Revelstoke lifts 'unenforceable' ban on escort services

Ladies, gentlemen, entrepreneurs, scoundrels — the City of Revelstoke repealed a decades-old bylaw prohibiting someone from opening an escort service in town.

The bylaw, which was adopted in early 1992, was rescinded by council at its meeting on Tuesday, June 10, part of a ongoing process to "go back and review all the bylaws to eliminate ones that are redundant, ridiculous or of no effect," said Mayor David Raven.

The escort service ban was one such bylaw identified by staff, who said in a report that the city couldn't prohibit any specific types of business. The bylaw was deemed "not legally binding nor is it enforceable."

The decision to ban escort services came about in 1991 when an application to open  Mia's Escort Agencies came the city from a woman named Maria Fernanda Lucas. According to articles from the Revelstoke Times, the application sparked a big debate, with 1,500 people signing a petition to put restrictions on the business and send a message that it wasn't wanted. One person wrote to the paper that the business would bring "nothing but evil and destruction" to the community.

Council wrestled with the issue as well. Previous court rulings said the city couldn't restrict any specific businesses, so council sought to create a bylaw that would put significant restrictions on the business.

In the end, they passed a bylaw prohibiting escort services, deliberately inviting a court challenge.

"We would be pleased to see if it was challenged," Alderman Brian Matheson said at the time. "And have it heard in Revelstoke."

At Tuesday's meeting, long-time councillor Tony Scarcella, responding to questions from the press, said he could recall only one application to start an escort service since then, but the bylaw was never challenged.


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