District of Kitimat turns to public for input on escort service issue

The District of Kitimat is committing to providing the public more information about escort services.

The District of Kitimat is committing to providing the public more information about escort services.

Councillors approved a recommendation that will see a public information meeting held on March 14, which will allow staff to explain the process and limits of administration to the community.

A stack of over 30 letters against the idea of an escort service was included in councillor’s information package. A large portion of them were identically written, indicating an organized letter writing campaign.

The suggested format of the eventual public meeting will be an introduction by District of Kitimat staff about the situation and how the Community Charter governs business licenses.

After that members of the public will be allowed five minutes each for comments, suggestions or questions.

The results of the public meeting will be brought to council at a later meeting and that feedback can be applied to an eventual community bylaw.

Within their report to council, staff noted that the lack of business licence regulations has not impeded the operation of escort services in communities in the past.

“In operating in a covert and illegal manner, the probability of health and safety issues arising is increased, including risk to underage and vulnerable women, concern of human trafficking and links to organized crime,” the report stated.

At the council meeting on February 25, deputy Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen said the intention is to have RCMP present at the meeting as well, or at least have information ready at the meeting that had been provided by the local detachment.

Riverlodge has been set as the venue of the event, and will start at 7 p.m.

Among the arguments against escort services made through citizens’ letters were that such businesses are “morally corrupt”, and lower community pride.

Others say that councillors themselves must take a strong opposition to the proposal.

Another letter stated that businesses such as escort services prey on at-risk members of the community.