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Mystery business

Residents fear escort service setting up on 51st Street

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 28/01) - Some city residents are fearing an escort service may be moving into their downtown neighbourhood.

The City of Yellowknife recently approved an application from Angie Fehr for a "home-based entertainment" business on 51st Street.

NNSL Photo

Paula Bauhaus stands outside the site, which is located across the street from her home where she runs a daycare. - Jennifer McPhee/NNSL photo

According to the application, the business will provide 'entertainment at birthday and retirement parties.' The city's development office approved the permit application, but residents petitioned for an appeal ,which will take place on Dec. 3.

Fehr could not be reached for comment.

Rene Bauhaus lives across the street from the site behind Overlander Sports. His wife runs a day-care centre out of their home. Frustrated after failing to get specific details on the type of business being proposed from city hall, Bauhaus said: "You sort of draw conclusions that it's going to be an escort service."

Bauhaus believes the city should find out what businesses are up to and inform the public before approving licences.

"The city isn't doing its job. We are left guessing -- that's the really stupid thing about it," he said. "I don't even know what I'm appealing."

Webster Lee, who lives close to the site, said he, too, received the run-around from city hall.

"In my view, any adult with any moxy at all can read into what is really going on," he said. "If it's clowns for a kid's birthday party, they would have told us that right off the bat."

City has no moral authority

Development officer John Pelletier said he doesn't know the exact details of the business Fehr is proposing but the city "doesn't have the authority to deal with moral issues."

He said the city grants permits, as long as businesses meet 10 bylaw requirements.

"I am not a judge," he said. "I am a development officer."

Pelletier, who granted a business licence for what became an escort service in Old Town several years ago, said the city could not possibly check into every business that applies for a home-based business permit.

"If it's something illegal, it's up to the RCMP to deal with," he said.

Sgt. Al McCambridge said the RCMP is aware of the business' intentions.

"Until we get a criminal complaint, our hands are tied," he said. "We are aware of it and will monitor it closely."

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the development office strictly follows legislation.

"You've run into the catch-22 of a society with a Charter of Rights," he said.

A hearing of the city of Yellowknife's development appeal board takes place on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m in the city hall boardroom.