Pri­vate strip club a mat­ter for po­lice, au­thor­ity says

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - MARK MELNYCHUK mmel­ny­chuk@post­media.com

REGINA While a new pri­vate strip club in the city is likely danc­ing on a le­gal fine line, nei­ther the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment nor the City of Regina have it in their sights.

Speak­ing to me­dia on Fri­day, Pre­mier Scott Moe said he ex­pects Saskatchewan’s liquor laws — which pro­hibit a mix of liquor and strip­tease shows, ex­cept in cer­tain cir­cum­stances — to be en­forced.

“If SLGA (Saskatchewan Liquor and Gam­ing Au­thor­ity) deems that they were oper­at­ing out of the con­text of the law we would ex­pect that law to be en­forced,” Moe said.

The prov­ince’s liquor laws were briefly re­laxed in 2014, but then re­stricted again. Then-pre­mier Brad Wall said the gov­ern­ment had con­cerns that strip clubs in the prov­ince would lead to an in­crease in hu­man traf­fick­ing. Moe said his po­si­tion is “ex­actly the same.”

Opened in April, Regina 151 is a mem­bers-only strip club that op­er­ates out of a pri­vate lo­ca­tion. From the out­side, the brick and glass build­ing looks like any other in­dus­trial of­fice. In the Cor­po­rate Registry, it’s reg­is­tered as Regina 151 Event Plan­ning Ltd., with the na­ture of the business de­scribed as “ad­ver­tis­ing, pub­lic re­la­tions and re­lated ser­vices.”

The club, fea­tur­ing fe­male ex­otic dancers, doesn’t hold reg­u­lar business hours. It opens to mem­bers only dur­ing events and is closed to the pub­lic, al­though one-day mem­ber­ships are avail­able.

Listed owner Dar­rin Oremba told Post­media News this week that he be­lieves the club is oper­at­ing within Saskatchewan’s laws be­cause it is a pri­vate venue and doesn’t sell liquor on-site. Com­pli­men­tary al­co­holic drinks are pro­vided as part of the mem­ber­ship fee.

“It’s sim­i­lar to invit­ing everybody to your house for a party,” Oremba said.

The Regina ac­coun­tant said he con­sulted with a lawyer be­fore open­ing, to en­sure it was le­gal.

David Mor­ris, a spokesman for the SLGA, said serv­ing com­pli­men­tary al­co­hol in a pri­vate club with­out a per­mit would still be con­sid­ered a vi­o­la­tion of the prov­ince’s liquor laws. How­ever, Mor­ris said the mat­ter is out­side of the SLGA’s ju­ris­dic­tion, and any­one break­ing the law would be sub­ject to po­lice en­force­ment.

Gene Makowsky, min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the SLGA, said be­cause the club doesn’t hold an SLGA liquor per­mit, it’s not un­der the purview of the au­thor­ity, so it won’t in­ves­ti­gate. Makowsky also de­ferred to the po­lice.

Regina Po­lice Ser­vice spokesman Les Parker said po­lice would need to look into city by­laws and pro­vin­cial statutes be­fore de­ter­min­ing if the club is vi­o­lat­ing the law.

“If there’s an onus on us to act, we need to in­ves­ti­gate what our bound­aries are to act on it,” Parker said.

Parker said Chief Evan Bray was not aware of the club’s ex­is­tence prior to a Post­media News ar­ti­cle this week. The chief wasn’t avail­able for com­ment Fri­day.

Oremba said of­fi­cers who vis­ited the club as­sured him it fell within the law. Parker couldn’t con­firm that.

Oremba is also con­fi­dent he isn’t run­ning afoul of Regina’s by­laws, say­ing the city told him the pri­vate club needed only a business li­cence from the prov­ince, and wasn’t re­quired to make an adult en­ter­tain­ment es­tab­lish­ment ap­pli­ca­tion.

“That is how they worded it, as far as why I did not need any kind of per­mits for any­thing here, is be­cause it’s pri­vate,” Oremba said.

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