Gibson says stripper ban still reflects public sentiment

Abbotsford-Mission MLA served on council when bylaw was passed.

An exotic dancing show scheduled for the Station Pub in Abbotsford was cancelled because of a local bylaw.

Nearly 20 years after Abbotsford banned exotic dancing in the city, Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson – who served on council during that time – says there is still a large number of people who believe such a bylaw is important.

Gibson is one of three councilllors from that era who have gone on to serve in senior levels of government – Abbotsford MP Ed Fast and Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa were also both part of the council that voted to ban stripping in Abbotsford in 1997. The bylaw has been called “outdated” by some after a sold-out male strip show was cancelled after the owners of the West Abbotsford pub where it was to be held was notified of the ban.

Fast and Warawa declined to comment on the bylaw’s relevance in 2016, with both saying they are focusing on federal matters.

But Gibson said, “I still believe that there is a significant number of residents who do not wish to see the devaluation and trivialization of human intimacy.”

The bylaw, he said, addressed those feelings.

Patricia Ross, who was also on council at the time but was not present when the bylaw was passed, said that councillors were responding to “overwhelming” public opinion asking for such a ban.

Ross said that while a couple of letters have been received since the cancellation of the recent show, there was no public demand for changing the bylaw before that during the city’s official community plan consultation process.

“As a public servant, my personal opinion is of little consequence – it is what the majority of the community tells us they want, that is what should change … or leave as is,” Ross said.

“If there is a movement asking us to review this, I think council is obliged to do so.”

In an email, Coun. Moe Gill, who also was on council in 1997, said “I stand behind the bylaw that was drafted in the past.”