City Reviews Licence for Gay Spa
Calgary Herald, December 17, 2002
By Mario Toneguzzi, email@example.com,
with files from Suzanne Wilton, Calgary Herald
The City of Calgary licensing department is launching an investigation into
a gay bathhouse raided last week by city police.
Police arrested 15 people and laid common bawdy house charges against
Goliathís Sauna and Texas Lounge in southwest Calgary.
Marc Halat, the cityís chief licence inspector, said Monday that the
establishment had a personal service licenceóapproved for baths, steam
cabinets, steam baths, hot tubs or saunas. It also had licences for being a
tobacco retailer and for food and alcohol.
However, it did not have a "lodging" or accommodation licence.
"If we did take enforcement action, our fines can run up to
$10,000," said Halat, adding that wouldnít likely happen in this case.
"If they (the bathhouse) were carrying out a business they were not
licensed for, letís find out why."
Keith Purdy, an employee of the bathhouse and co-chairman of Pride Calgary,
said the establishment has a city licence to operate a sauna and to rent its
36 private rooms.
He disputed police claims it was a common bawdy house.
"It is a facility where you rent a room not necessarily for sex,"
said Purdy. "Itís a cheap place to get a room for a night. If sex
occurs, thatís your own prerogative. Itís a totally private thing."
Purdy said he could not comment on the cityís licensing investigation,
but did say there are differences in licensing depending on how long a room is
Halat said the bathhouse has to renew its licences each year at a cost of
City police vice detectives entered Goliathís Sauna and Texas Lounge, at
308 17th Ave. S.W., at about 6 p.m. last Thursday. They arrested 13 people on
charges of being found without lawful excuse in a common bawdy house and two
employees for allegedly being the keepers of a common bawdy house.
The charges have enraged the local gay community.
On Monday, neither police Chief Jack Beaton, Const. Doug Jones, in charge
of the gay and lesbian/police liaison committee, nor Staff Sgt. Joe Houben of
the vice unit would comment on the situation.
The Calgary Police Service public affairs/media relations unit answered
questions on the issue.
Robert Palmer, manager of the public affairs/media relations unit, said the
police department is committed to working closely with the gay and lesbian
He said police could not discuss specifics of these charges because they
are before the courts.
Palmer said police have instituted several initiatives to create better
ties with the gay community:
- Several years ago, police dedicated one officer to liaise with the gay
- The gay and lesbian community/ police liaison committee was established;
- The Calgary Police Service recruits in the gay community to ensure the
force reflects the cityís diversity;
- There are specialized responses to same-sex domestic violence complaints;
- Police attend all major gay community events.
But Purdy said, "By no means is this over."
"The gay community is outraged to no end. Iíve never seen the gay
community like this before. People are furious. The whole community is in
shock. It was totally unexpected and totally uncalled for," he said.
Purdy said his first priority has been to arrange meetings with various
individuals, including the mayor, on Thursday, and the chief of police.
"I will be in touch with other community leaders over the next few
days and we will be planning strategy."
Purdy said the facility has operated for 35 years and never been raided
Stephen Lock, co-founder of the gay and lesbian community/police liaison
committee, said police have "totally mishandled" this case.
"They went about it the wrong way. The bawdy house charges are
ludicrous," said Lock. "Itís not illegal to have gay sex in
Mayor Dave Bronconnier said he will meet with the gay community if thatís
what they want.
An emergency meeting of the police/gay community committee is being set up
for later this week.
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