For the record, I wrote this before I saw that Wanda already put up a piece on the same subject. I’m posting this anyway because I wasted a perfectly good afternoon writing it; and, dammit, I’m a white male and you need to hear what I have to say about strip clubs.
Hey Regina! I hear there was a vote on strip clubs last night? How’d that go? Ooooh. Controversial, you say? Council went against a staff recommendation and voted to say “No” to a strip club? Many angry words were traded on social media between strip club supporters and strip club detractors in the aftermath?
I should probably keep my mouth shut then, eh?
Well, normally, I’d agree with you because, here’s the thing… I really try to avoid covering things like strip clubs because I’m an old white dude. I’m totally sopping with privilege.
No, I’m not even kidding. I’m riding so high on old white dude privilege that sometimes it makes my nose bleed.
Recognizing all this, when a thing like strip clubs crosses my city hall beat, I’d really rather just say, “Here’s a thing, what do you think?” and move on to something more within my comfort zone like development variances.
This is because, as you may have inferred by now, I am not a “woman”. In fact, I am by most metrics the opposite of a woman. And that makes me the last person who could be negatively impacted by an industry that involves women taking off their clothes for the entertainment of old white dudes.
I really shouldn’t get a say on this.
And while I find alluring all the pro-liberty arguments related to legalized stripping, I do find it awfully convenient that the end result of all these arguments is me, an old white dude, getting to see more boobies.
Still, all that said, if for some reason I was called upon to vote on whether or not stripping should be allowed in Regina — and believe me, us old white dudes get to vote on what women do with their bodies all the time! — I’d still vote to make it legal because, like I said, I’m not a woman.
When in doubt, my knee-jerk position is pro-choice. On everything.
I mention that not to walk away from anything I wrote above. I’m just saying, these are my biases, my cards are on the table, you can disagree with me, I am not intractable. There. If you want to send me hate mail because that’s my opinion, that’s okay. I can take it. I’m an old white dude. Say whatever you want, my side still owns most of everything.
But that is not what I came online to write about today. I’m here as an old-white-dude-city-hall-reporter-on-sabbatical to say, “Don’t you find it fascinating whenever council votes to do something different from what city administration recommends? That’s when city politics get real.”
These are the telling moments.
So the LAST thing I’d be doing right now if I was back home covering this story is saying, “Top notch work, council. Glad to see you’re taking a principled stand on strip clubs.”
Because in my crippled, withered and blackened heart, I assume that governing bodies — whether they’re councils, legislatures or parliaments of crows — only take principled stands when they think they can get away with it.
I’m on to you, governing bodies!
Oh sure, tonnes of people came out to council last night to express their distaste for this adult entertainment establishment. So maybe you could argue that council was just responding to the will of Regina’s citizenry. This is a democracy, after all. Once all these people showed up to condemn that development, council’s hands were tied and they had to turn it down.
You could argue that. But if you did, you’d be WRONG.
In case you’ve just joined us, the last three-plus years of council have basically been wall-to-wall packed galleries — galleries so packed that people spilled out into the halls and had to watch the proceedings on TVs in other rooms. The TVs were tuned to The Walking Dead but people still watched because they were important council meetings.
These were galleries so packed the police would have to body surf into Henry Baker Hall when it came time to haul Chad Novak away.
Packed galleries is systems normal for this council.
And every one of those galleries has been filled to bursting with delegations coming out to speak against a proposal before council.
And in virtually every one of those meetings, council ignored the concerns of those angry galleries and passed the proposals anyway. (Of course, not before making many long speeches about how, really, they’re, as a council, listening to the gallery but everybody who came out to speak is wrong and just doesn’t understand all the nuances of what’s going on. Sound a little like mansplaining from some old white dudes? That’s because it should.)
Thing is, council only listens to packed galleries when it fits council’s agenda.
And that strip club didn’t fit.
I wonder why?
Well, here’s a thought… I notice the applicant on that strip club proposal ain’t from around here. (Regina, I mean.) That applicant is a stranger. With strange ways and strange plans for strange, forgotten corners of our city. Doesn’t seem exactly… “right,” somehow.
Now maybe, if some prominent local concern — just to pick one completely not at random… let’s say… oh… Harvard! — were to propose opening a gentlemen’s club in our fair city I’d be mighty surprised if council didn’t declare it “an idea whose time has come” and vote to pass it despite any objections raised by those confounded naysayers who crawl out of their Cathedral ghetto every other month to say “No” to every wholesome and worthwhile project conceived under God’s own sun.
Don’t believe me about a local concern maybe being seen in a different light when it comes to getting approvals for things? Well, just have a gander at another one of those telling moments when council and administration parted company, this one quite recent: when council voted to approve the
Harvard-backed Rosewood Park development which was backed by another Regina stalwart, Dream (formerly Dundee) Developments.
Administration didn’t even say, “Don’t do that.” They just recommended council put the project on hold awhile so as new development levies could be worked out and staff could have time to put together a phasing scheme for future growth that’s in line with the objectives of the new Official Community Plan.
You know, reasonable caution. They wanted to make sure they were doing things right.
Council initially seemed to agree. But then at the 11th hour they threw caution to the wind and Rosewood Park went ahead. And that pretty much paves the way for
Harvard’s Dream’s much grander ambitions for Coopertown.
Council sure doled out a sweet victory for the old white dudes at
Harvard Dream that day.
Need more examples?
Well, remember condominium conversions? City administration consistently recommended against them and repeatedly pointed out that as long as the vacancy rate sits at under three per cent they were prohibited by the city’s condominium conversion policy (since revised). But city council gave all but one condominium conversion its stamp of approval thanks to the persuasiveness of representatives from local corporation, Nicor.
Or what about the property tax exemptions for Harvard’s Hill Tower III? Staff pointed out that the Mosaic Corporation portion of that building only qualified for a 75 per cent exemption under city policies but council voted to give them a 100 per cent exemption because they’re such prominent and upstanding local citizens.
Pretty sweet deals.
But those aren’t the kinds of good turns one does for some shiftless stranger who comes to town to set up a nudie show.
Those Albertans just don’t understand how things are done round these parts.
CORRECTION: In the original version of this I wrote that Rosewood/Coopertown were Harvard-backed projects. They’re not. That’s me being stupid. They’re Dream Developments’ projects. That was me being stupid again. Malta is making me careless. I regret the error and, as that property tax exemption was for Harvard’s Hill Tower III, I would’ve listed those examples in the reverse order if I hadn’t been a distracted idiot when writing this.