Permit for adult club seems to have slipped everyone’s notice

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The city failed to pull the licence of a strip bar and massage parlour when it had the chance, and an east London neighbourhood may have to pay the price, residents charged Wednesday.

A community activist and a business in the Argyle area slammed city officials with “dropping the ball” when, in 2016, nothing was done to pull the adult-entertainment licence for what was Famous Flesh Gordon’s at 2190 Dundas St.E.

Now, it is a race to see whether the city can refuse the adult-entertainment licence in time, as a new strip bar and body rub parlour may locate there.

“I am upset the city has allowed this. I can’t blame the business for applying, but the city should have done something,” when it had the chance, said A.J. O’Connor, manager of Lynn’s Bakery, beside where the strip bar and body-rub parlour may open.

The bakery suffered a drop in business when Flesh Gordon’s was in business, as drunkenness, violence, public urination, drug use and massage-parlour staff smoking outside, all contributed to a decline in the area, he said.

“My staff feel unsafe. I’ve seen my father threatened, I’ve seen him come home with marks on his hands and face.”

Some area residents also feel misled by the application as signs for a new restaurant, Meatheads, were originally posted on the site, said Shawn Lewis, president of the Argyle Community Association.

“It is very frustrating. We thought a restaurant was going there, but that is not the case,” said Lewis.

“We want this licence withdrawn. Why, in the 11th hour, has this issue come to light? It sat vacant for two years. We are frustrated the ball has been dropped.”

The club is three blocks from a YMCA daycare and Bonaventure elementary school.

Flesh Gordon’s closed in 2015 and for 2016, the site was vacant and without a licence, presenting an opportunity to pull the adult- entertainment licence.

But it fell between the cracks of politicians and city staff. In December 2016, a new application was made by Paris Clubs Corp.

“We follow the direction of council,” Orest Katolyk, city bylaw enforcement officer, said.

There are thousands of business with licences in London to track, he added.

Coun. Bill Armstrong, who said at a recent city committee meeting this is a critical issue in his ward, did not act when the site went dark.

“I am not aware of the goings-on there. I have to think this lies with staff. There was no report brought to us,” said Armstrong.

Politicians don’t know about licences, that has to be brought to our attention.”

Now, the whole matter may be headed into a legal mess.

If new owner George Nikopoulos, from Toronto, finishes building renovations and passes inspection before the end of August, he gets his licence. The city will likely face legal action if it tries to shut it down after that, by withdrawing an adult-entertainment licence for that site.

A public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28, where city politicians can vote to withdraw the licence.

“Council cannot deny a licence, administration grants the licence. But council can try delete the location,” said Katolyk.

“If no licence is issued by Aug. 28, council can delete that location.”

Armstrong also believes that since the bar would open about 50 metres from a residential area, it can be denied as a bylaw states such a business cannot open within 100 metres of homes.

But that’s unlikely as the site is grandfathered, being a strip bar before the homes were built, added Katolyk.

“That site is in the bylaw already,” he said.

The city has successfully pulled the licence for adult entertainment at Legends, on Oxford Street and the Rendezvous on Dundas Street, when they closed.

However, when it tried to do the same with the Royal Lancaster on Dundas Street, now Golddiggers, when it closed the owner presented affidavits private parties were held on site.

So the licence remained active and the city could not shut it down, said Katolyk. 

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