‘Dodgy’ shops con­cern res­i­dents

Wil­low­dale sex doll brothel shut down, but prob­lem lies with own­ers

Bayview Post - - News -

A sex doll brothel, Aura Dolls, was set to re­place a shut­tered tan­ning salon lo­cated at 4623 Yonge St., but fol­low­ing a quick re­sponse from both the com­mu­nity and the lo­cal city coun­cil­lor, John Fil­ion, the busi­ness will not be open­ing its doors any time soon.

“As soon as we heard about it, we im­me­di­ately con­tacted coun­cil­lor Fil­ion, who jumped on it right away,” said Paul Martin, the de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the West Lansing Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (WLHA). Fil­ion had rec­og­nized that the new busi­ness was con­sid­ered an “adult en­ter­tain­ment par­lour,” which have long been il­le­gal in Wil­low­dale due to a mo­tion that Fil­ion moved in the former city of North York.

“Some­thing got done, and the prob­lem went away as far as we are con­cerned, but we are still left with a mas­sage par­lour in there and a pot dis­pen­sary,” said Martin.

Stop­ping Aura Dolls from open­ing its door was a vic­tory for the res­i­dents in the west Lansing, area, but deal­ing with other un­wanted busi­nesses is not as easy as dig­ging up an old by­law.

“These dodgy things, like these mas­sage par­lours for ex­am­ple, are not a straight­for­ward li­cens­ing is­sue to get rid of them,” ex­plained Martin. “It’s ap­par­ently fairly com­pli­cated, and the coun­cil­lor has been work­ing closely with the po­lice to get rid of them.”

Fil­ion and Martin con­tend that land spec­u­la­tors, like CB Hold­ings, have been buy­ing up prop­er­ties and rent­ing them out to ques­tion­able busi­nesses in west Lansing, with the long-term goal of turn­ing these prop­er­ties into large de­vel­op­ments.

“That build­ing is ul­ti­mately one day go­ing to be de­vel­oped,” said Martin. “At the mo­ment, that build­ing con­tains a sketchy mas­sage par­lour, a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary that keeps getting closed down once a week and re­opens. ”

Ac­cord­ing spec­u­la­tors may go so far as to in­vest in a prop­erty, form an as­so­ci­a­tion, hire lawyers and plan­ners to zone their prop­er­ties against the of­fi­cial plan, rent them out to busi­nesses that may be will­ing to pay higher prices and then sell those prop­er­ties to a de­vel­oper or builder.

“We are try­ing to shut those [busi­nesses] down,” said Fil­ion. “Many of them close down, go to court, and they pay their fines and open up again as the cost of do­ing busi­ness. It’s like giv­ing some­body park­ing tick­ets, but it doesn’t mean they will stop park­ing il­le­gally.”

Ac­cord­ing to a WLHA search of On­tario land prop­erty records, the build­ing that housed Aura Dolls and which cur­rently houses a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary is owned by CB Hold­ings, which also owns a num­ber of other lo­cal build­ings. The WLHA be­lieves that even­tu­ally the build­ings will be re­zoned and turned into res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments.

“The neigh­bour­hood is con­cerned with the scale of de­vel­op­ments be­ing pro­posed by the peo­ple who own prop­er­ties, and the rental sit­u­a­tion is some­thing that hap­pens in the in­terim,” said Martin. “Peo­ple who buy prop­er­ties won’t let them sit com­pletely va­cant. They have to put some­thing in there. It has to be short-term, and if it can make them ex­tra money, why not.”

Lo­cated min­utes away from High­way 401, this part of Yonge Street is a hot bed for condo de­vel­op­ments. The prop­erty at 4623 Yonge St. stands along­side a gas sta­tion and old com­mer­cial plazas.

Fil­ion also said that, when land spec­u­la­tors buy up prop­er­ties with the goal of de­vel­op­ment, the value of the land around the ar­eas of these prop­er­ties gets driven up by the spec­u­la­tion.

“It is one of the rea­sons why we have to vig­or­ously crack down on spec­u­la­tors who defy the laws in mul­ti­ple ways,” said Fil­ion.

There aren’t many so­lu­tions be­ing of­fered to com­bat this prob­lem. Fines have not been work­ing, but Fil­ion be­lieves there is an­other way to stop these landown­ers.

“Usu­ally when some­one does some­thing that is il­le­gal, it’s usu­ally not the only il­le­gal thing they do,” said Fil­ion.

“We have to vig­or­ously crack down on spec­u­la­tors who defy the laws in mul­ti­ple ways.”

Paul Martin of the West Lansing Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

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