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About 10 years ago the Whistler council of the day tried to deny an escort service a business licence on the grounds that businesses aren’t allowed in residential neighbourhoods. It didn’t work. Approximately five years the Whistler council of the day passed a bylaw prohibiting swearing in Whistler Village. The bylaw is practically unenforceable. This week Whistler council took steps to prohibit exotic dancers in Whistler clubs with a C liquor licence. It may have created more problems than it will solve. Apparently there have been complaints — to the chamber of commerce, to some councillors and to the WRA — since Capone’s nightclub began providing exotic entertainment on a regular basis a couple of weeks ago. Until now council has tolerated occasional exotic performances at other C-licensed clubs in the village and apparently still has no problem with exotic dancers at the A-licensed Boot Pub outside the village. But, weekly exotic entertainment in the village has been deemed "inappropriate for the resort." Council will hear comments from the public and affected parties prior to adopting the bylaw at the April 6 council meeting, although it appeared Monday some councillors were prepared to adopt the bylaw without any input from anyone. The public information session (March 29) is supposed to provide some more opinions on what is and isn’t appropriate entertainment for the resort. But there is no doubt about council’s position. In the words of acting mayor Ken Melamed, speaking on Mountain FM Tuesday, the bylaw is "a knee-jerk reaction to shut down Capone’s." Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said Monday that council frequently legislates based on moral positions and made the point that if the issue was video lottery terminals there would be no question council would shut them down. True enough, but council didn’t take a moral position by introducing a bylaw that shuts down all exotic dancing, only that at clubs with C licences. A legal case might even be made that council is acting to reduce the value of a C licence by limiting the activities allowed in such establishments, but not in establishments with different liquor licences. What may be at the heart of Capone’s decision to introduce exotic dancing on a regular basis is something the Food and Beverage Association has harped on for years: Whistler is over-licensed. That hasn’t led to price cutting on drinks, thanks to an agreement among bars and clubs in the village. But if a club or bar can’t gain an advantage or a foothold through offering drink specials the next step, and something the Food and Beverage Association and the municipality’s own liquor consultants have warned of, is bringing in exotic dancers. In rushing to judgement about what’s best for the resort councillors may have overlooked the economic argument against exotic dancers — they’re expensive. Many in the industry feel a new nightclub wouldn’t have been able to afford exotic dancers on a continuous basis for very long, and the "problem" would have gone away on its own. Now the municipality may face law suits, charges of discrimination and negative publicity — the kind it was hoping to avoid by shutting down exotic dancing in the village. And there is still the opportunity for A-licensed clubs in the village to bring in exotic dancers.

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