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Stoney Creek wellness centre stripped of licence for sexual services: tribunal - TheSpec.com

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In June, Hamilton Police Service announced Project Orchid, a sweep of personal wellness centres in May that also included bylaw officers, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Ministry of Finance.

Police said the operation identified a suspected trafficking victim and three women from China who'd overstayed their visas. Four men were issued warnings about paying for sex, but not charged due to a lack of evidence.

During Tuesday's hearing, bylaw officer Steven Woods said he researched ads online for evidence of scofflaws.

In one forum, a customer, purportedly reviewing Sun Massage, said he was greeted by an "Asian lady" who started kissing him. He paid her $40 and "she ask (sic) if I would like more."

Woods said Sun Massage Health Centre also violated other articles of the bylaw, including obscuring most of its front window. In total, bylaw issued six fines, totalling about $1,000, which were all paid.

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Technically, only two licensed body-rub parlours in Hamilton can offer massages of an erotic or sexual nature: the Garden of Eden Spa on Kenilworth Avenue North and King Sherman Sauna on King Street East.

There are 17 licensed personal wellness centres in Hamilton. Some are "legitimate businesses" but others offer sexual services, said city licensing chief Ken Leendertse.

In an interview, MacSween said police's goal is not strictly enforcement, but also to "provide support" for those who may be trapped in the sex trade.

Elene Lam argues operations like Project Orchid do more harm than good by pushing sex workers further underground. "Actually, you make the women more vulnerable," said Lam, executive director of Butterfly, Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network.

Women lose their work, and in some cases are detained by immigration authorities to face deportation, she added. "Is it protection?"

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro
 
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