Charlottetown council rejects variance for sex shop

Ryan Ross
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Amy Brewster is co-owner of Taboo Company adult and smoke shop on the corner of Euston and Hillsborough streets. She is appealing a decision Wed., Aug. 27, 2014 by city council that denied a zoning variance required to operate the business at that location.

The owner of an adult novelty store in Charlottetown says she is disappointed city council denied a request to let the business operate in a residential neighbourhood.

Amy Brewster is one of the owners of Taboo Company and said there was a lot of support for the store as it sought the variance it needed to stay on Euston Street.

"I was really shocked that the variance got denied," she said.

The business opened earlier this summer in a space that has housed commercial operations for many years, but Taboo Company required a variance because the area is zoned for residential use.

Its owners didn't know that until they started the procedure needed for signage and they later ran into opposition from some area residents who didn't want the business in the neighbourhood.

The matter went to a vote Wednesday during a special meeting where city council rejected the variance request by a vote of 7-3.

Only Coun. Rob Lantz, Coun. Jason Coady and Coun. Melissa Hilton, who are the three members of the planning board, voted in favour.

After the vote, Brewster said the owners plan to appeal the decision and she thought there was some information not considered in council's decision.

"A little bit of a lack of information about how much support we do have," she said.

Donna West, who lives a few houses away from the store, was one of fewer than 10 people in the public gallery at the council meeting and brought with her a petition that included 74 names of people opposed to the business.

West was council denied the variance.

"I'm very happy and I hope the man (owner Chaylon Brewster) finds another place," she said.

There have been other businesses in the same location, including a drum shop and a small grocery store, but zoning changes meant any future businesses would need a variance.

West said it's not for her to say what should go in the space but there are options for something else in a family-oriented neighbourhood.

"Not a sex shop," she said.

Before the vote on the variance, Coun. Mitch Tweel stood and said residents wanted council to support the community on the basis of planning, not on whether it was moral or ethical.

He also said he received letters on the matter from several institutions, included churches.

Tweel called it a critical issue that will send a strong message to the community about whether or not council supports the work that has gone into the area over the years.

"It's a great fabric, great people," he said.

After the vote, Tweel said Taboo Company wasn't the right fit for the community.

"It just didn't send the right message," he said.

Brewster disagreed and said the owners planned on working with the community to clean up the area around the shop, including removing graffiti from the building.

If the store has to move that won't happen, she said.

"But we would still like to."

Lantz said he supported the variance because the planning board reviewed the application and found there was nothing that would prohibit Taboo Company from operating at the Euston Street location.

"The question will be whether the grounds for denying it are enshrined in the bylaw."

With the owners planning to appeal the decision they will be able to continue operating the store until the appeal process runs its course through the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

Lantz said it's an unusual situation and ideally the owners would have been warned earlier that the variance was needed.

"It's an unfortunate set of circumstances."

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Taboo Company, Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Euston Street

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Recent comments

  • Keferos
    August 28, 2014 - 14:03

    This is hilarious. Your precious children can open their smart phones and search porn clips and drug content in eight seconds. They are having sex and sending nude images to one another. They are bullying each other on facebook into suicide and completely disconnecting from the world. Have you heard the music and the messages of today's music on the radio that your kids are exposed to? Did you see Nicki Minaj's soft core porn music video "Anaconda" that she just performed on the VMAs live and you're all worried about a completely legal ADULT sex shop downtown? I have seen drug deals go down on that street and drunks wandering by. That shop has every right to be there. Brilliant minds at work, I see. WELL DONE.

    • Drizzy
      August 29, 2014 - 10:05

      Dude... don't be hating on minaj. Stop trying to use her as a scapegoat for your dumb political messages.

  • ashamed to be islander 3
    August 28, 2014 - 12:45

    They say downtown Charlottetown is residential ? Again my AZZ!! it is the mecha of PEI full of businesses, shopping malls, offices etc. you want residential ..... go to Cornwall or Stratford that is residential. Lets close a place that is providing much needed jobs, revenues and taxes for our capital city! and why? So hypocrites can feel like they are protecting and sheltering our children from a multi billion dollar industry that they see every single day of their lives!!!!!! SHAME ON YOU ISLANDERS, SHAME ON YOU!!!

  • ashamed to be islander 2
    August 28, 2014 - 12:26

    Not only are our children exposed to more on the internet but our tv shows and movies make it acceptable for sex at young ages. Look at the show Degrassi. It shows kids, yes kids at a junior high level to be responsible when having sex so there is no teenage pregnancy! but god forbid they know what a dildo is! sex education in our schools teach children how to put on a condom properly. Yes they try to teach abstinence but we all know they are going to do it that is why they show how to put on condom properly. These people who oppose are pathetic and narrow minded. they try to make themselves feel they are protecting our children from this horrible stuff and yet give them a laptop or smart phone in single digit ages that can watch the real thing!! where were these soo moral people when it was the washtub years ago that was a front to sell drugs, when all of Charlottetown knew what was going on! when it was a video store that made its money on adult movies not the regular ones! where were they then? These people that oppose are probably the first ones to throw on the latex suits and pull out their toys! Hypocrites is what they are!!!

  • J
    August 28, 2014 - 11:53

    Is this area designated as business or residental? A-1 Vacuums-business, Ken's Corner-business, Robins Donuts-business, and so on.

  • William McDonald
    August 28, 2014 - 10:15

    I totally disagree with Council's arbitrary and heavy-handed approach to this issue (there must be a civic election coming up), however my question is a practical one: How will Ms. Brewster and her partners be compensated for their expenses (startup, moving, staffing, and legal) should she actually be forced to move her business??? It seems to me to be similar to the couple who purchased a building lot and were issued a building permit only to be told that they couldn't build as the "permit was issued in error". In my humble estimation, someone should have to pay, if for no other reason than to discourage the flip-flopping we're seeing these days. Mitch, just because you want it doesn't make it so.

  • Chris w
    August 28, 2014 - 07:12

    Property zoned residential. New company moves in. Company is mad at council? Shouldnt they be mad at their landlord? Welcome to the business world honey. Where not knowing isnt acceptable. At the least, you should know who to be mad at.

    • Hugs
      August 28, 2014 - 13:49

      Get a grip. They were in constant communication with the city regarding this for four months before opening. Its why their windows have displays in them and not completely blanked out with Vinyl graphics as the city did not want vinyl graphics in their window. Welcome to common sense honey.

    • Chris W
      August 28, 2014 - 16:19

      Obviously their communication must not be too good if they were in "constant communication". Not one of my above questions were addressed. This is the really real world dear, no dreamland.

  • Brian
    August 28, 2014 - 07:10

    Have they seen what's at the gap? That stuff IS for children's eyes. But a store for adults only is absolutely appalling of course. Seriously, so many people herd themselves without thinking. "Well I've been told sex is bad and should be ashamed by it. Better force this view on others!" Let the business be. Make it Adults only. You don't let your kids into the liquor cabinet, (hopefully) but kids gonna know what's in there. Just teach them not to be spying in the windows.

  • w kennedy
    August 28, 2014 - 03:06

    Right on Charlottetown. School in a week too and he plans to stay open. Perhaps costs to city for vexatious appeals and some serious scrutiny should be given to those that supported it?

  • Sam H.
    August 28, 2014 - 00:11

    Last week everyone was freaking out wanting the Mayor to pass a law that says freedom of speech and 500 years of common law tradition from the Magna Carta somehow don't exist in Charlottetown because of crazy Ontario anti-abortion protesters. This week everyone is freaking out because the small rules we do have to protect children from adult imagery are now suddenly offensive. I feel sorry for the politicians who have to deal with such an incoherent and episodic public who don't seem to understand basic Canadian social studies.

  • Deke
    August 28, 2014 - 00:07

    Love how many people are on here saying if you disagree with this store remaining in the unlawful location its owners foolishly set up shop that you're somehow against 'sex.' That's like saying if you think someone opening a propane storage depot in the middle of Sherwood that you're against food and seniors staying warm in the winter. Nope. Just think people should follow the rules and set up their sex shops where sex shops are legally allowed to operate.

    • Jen
      August 28, 2014 - 10:48

      They are legally aloud to be there... city counsel said so. None of these comments for closing Taboo down hold any weight with me anyways... Its likely just one person posting anomalously posing as multiple people. why do i think this? On Facebook there is not a single negative comment. why don't you post on Facebook where you have to be accountable for what you say.

  • avid Islander
    August 27, 2014 - 21:58

    1. Keep it open, employ islanders and keep the money local. 2. Not a moral or ethical standpoint but rather development and planning??? Listen Towel, no one on city council cares about this neighborhood until this successful and thriving Island Owned business comes in and makes people aware of it. How about you remove the drug dealers and sweep up the needles on the sides of the roads before talking about "planning". 3. I support this business and am in favor of a strike at the next city council meeting in support of keeping Taboo open. They have " 74" signatures? How about we give them 200+ bodies. Let keep it peaceful and just show them how a community really comes together. Facebook page "rally for Taboo"

  • carolyn silverstein
    August 27, 2014 - 21:32

    The truth is - that shop is an eyesore. Being self -employed is desirable and admirable. My question to the owners is: why would you insist on alienating the surrounding community? Why persist only to generate enmity? Find a suitable location and give it another shot. The residents of the community aren't prudes..they are reacting the same way any rational human being might.. rejecting ideas in poor taste.

    • Mitch
      August 28, 2014 - 16:04

      In poor taste? So because you think it's poor taste makes it so? Interesting. Because I don't. In fact I, and many sec therapists would argue that trying new things leads to more intimacy in relationships which leads to stronger relationships. This place isn't a brothel for God's sake. This is like listening to the arguments when watching Footloose. I'm wondering how many of the people who signed this petition have actually darkened the doorway of this place? Also 74 signatures is paltry; I have about 5 times that many living on my street. Democratic process would mean that what the majority wants should win right? Pfft. Shameful. Stop being so closed minded...

  • Modern Guy
    August 27, 2014 - 19:56

    I would like to know if Mitch Tweel and the other councillors who voted against this plus the people who signed the petition have bought things from Wild Impulse or other adult and novelty stores? It is not like the children in the neighbourhood just appeared - we all know how they were created. Some people make this out to be an evil place like where prostitutes are when all it is doing is selling items to normal people for making their time in the bedroom more enjoyable. Parents will have to have "THE TALK" with their children eventually so why do they hurt a business and make other people's lives more difficult just because they are uncomfortable with talking to their children about a very natural topic.

  • Head Shaker
    August 27, 2014 - 19:31

    Rob Lantz supports sex shops in residential areas. Good luck on your PC leadership campaign, Lantz. You'll win the rural vote for sure.

    • King
      August 27, 2014 - 21:01

      Love how one person keeps posting as different people shaming Lantz. Soooo residential... There are businesses everywhere around that store.

  • Townie
    August 27, 2014 - 19:28

    I agree with the other 3 people who have commented under 8 different names that it's a great idea to sell sex toys in the middle of a residential area. I also think we should move a propane facility into this residential area, and probably a nightclub too. Oh wait... no, I'm not 7 years old so I understand city planning. I agree with city council. Shame on Rob Lantz and the others who thought dildos and milk cartons belong side by side in a residential area.

  • Message
    August 27, 2014 - 19:20

    "It just didn't send the right message"...put a lot of thought into that answer didn't you Mitch! That's why the pay you the big $$$

  • Nancy
    August 27, 2014 - 19:10

    Glad that city council has some common sense! An adult store does not belong in a residential neighbourhood!

    • C
      August 27, 2014 - 19:14

      Ya okay, go read your bible.

    • Booo....
      August 28, 2014 - 06:30

      Stop being such a negative Nancy.....

    • Hypocrites
      August 28, 2014 - 08:15

      The only reason you hypocrites don't want the place in your neighborhood is because you don't want your neighbors to see you when you go in to make a purchase.

  • Vicky
    August 27, 2014 - 19:04

    I cannot beleive there are 6 spineless councilors that supported Mitchel Tweel…the same guy all 6 want out of council! I live in this ward and I can promise you Mr.Tweel when you come to my door I will tell you to your face you will not be getting my vote! Shame on you and same on the other 6 councilors that voted against this business….good on the 3 councilors that had enough sense to vote in favor of improving this dump of an area!

  • willie wonka
    August 27, 2014 - 18:49

    Just call it a 'House of Pleasure'----which it is. Be very discrete about outside signage and sell a few other convenience store things. A simple sign on the door to restrict age entry is all that should be required. A lot of these shops go right overboard and really run down what should be a simple discrete place to pick up a few odds and ends to make life a bit more enjoyable. Apply the PEI special touch on it. Good Luck with your business adventure.

  • Get with the times
    August 27, 2014 - 17:57

    I don't understand what is wrong with Prince Edward Island. In any other city in Canada there wouldn't be people making a big fuss about this and getting there way. I don't think this business is begging people to go in, if you don't agree with what they sell don't go in there. Pretty simple solution if you ask me. Charlottetown needs to get with the times. If your children ask what's that store, you can still answer them in the same way you would if they asked you a adult question that you don't what them to know...It's a store for adults not children. Life isn't always about Anne of Green Gables and sugar plums. Reality is it's 2014 we don't drive horse and wagons anymore and Charlottetown needs to get with the times. If you don't agree with smoking you chose not smoke. If you don't agree with this store being where it is, don't go in it. I bet the same people that disagree with this store, don't think anything of the sketchy people that sometimes hang around Ken's corner.

    • KJM
      August 27, 2014 - 19:29

      To bad the city and some residents didn't have this type of common sense. I live close to this store and I don't know what was so offensive about it. The downtown area is becoming full of drugs, junkies, thieves, vandals, loud drunken idiots wandering the streets at night and various other vermin whose only potential and ambition is to draw a monthly welfare cheque or get a fix. This business is better off somewhere else. The lowlifes downtown would only rob and steal from them anyway!

  • herk
    August 27, 2014 - 17:19

    here we go again, set back 50 years in time, way to go

  • Susan
    August 27, 2014 - 17:15

    Wow …this area is in need of businesses …I hope IRAC over turns the decision and I hope the councillor is held accountable come November!

  • Chalk one up.
    August 27, 2014 - 17:14

    Chalk one up for the loonie religious wackos that were out there opposing this place.

  • willy
    August 27, 2014 - 17:10

    While not shocked , I do feel sorry for these people. They spent hard earned money to try and help themselves and the community, and what do they get? This is the reason we decided to move off island to open our business. If parents would teach their children proper standards and how to grow to be proper adults, they would not ever have to be worried about something influencing their kids minds. Worry about your own things before you poke your nose in other peoples business. Typical Island.

  • C
    August 27, 2014 - 16:57

    To be clear... It's not a #%$@ing sex shop... It's an adult store. A sex shop is where one goes to buy a partner to have sex with.

  • Mike
    August 27, 2014 - 16:31

    Good for the three who voted in favour for this business, I cannot believe how spineless some of this council are…….the councillor of the area will soon be voted out and IRAC is going to over turn councils decision as these councillors are aware and don't want blood on their hands blame it on IRAC…….Nothing but dumps close to the area and you have a business person looking to brighton the area up!

  • How it is...
    August 27, 2014 - 16:11

    To the owners: It's unfortunate that you're in the location that you are. Clearly your shop is surrounded by some of the most backward & closed minded riff-raff this city has to offer. They had no problem with a business running there when it was a used clothing store but as soon as they take an antiquated moral objection to something they become a bunch of NIMBYs. Regardless of if they let you continue to operate, I'd suggest looking for a better location anyway. Something that's not close to the crack houses and Euston Street trash where people actually have money to spend on your products. Best of luck!

  • charlie brown
    August 27, 2014 - 15:55

    Right, bet she could get a liquor license though. Such horse crap from supposedly "wise" people. Wonder what vote threats were made in this ward. Wow , i'm disappointed by council.

  • Resident
    August 27, 2014 - 15:32

    I guess we should be thankful that this backward thinking town that still maintains by-laws limiting the height of building to be less then that of a steeple separated the church from state long enough to begrudgingly allow Sunday shopping. My sympathies go to the store owner who tried to make a living in this community.

  • bill
    August 27, 2014 - 15:31

    This is why everyone moves away from this backwards province!!

  • Shame
    August 27, 2014 - 15:26

    Well it is a shame that some people are against this shop because of the legal goods they decided to sell. If the appeal is lost then I would like to see that property empty for many years so it can become a run down eyesore they can all be proud of since that is what those against it deserve.

  • Lloyd Heinlein
    August 27, 2014 - 15:07

    You had my support Amy. I support you having this business and employing other Islanders. It is a shame that it is so hard to try to make a living here on PEI. It is also a shame that something as natural as intercourse and pleasuring yourself has to be considered disgusting and vulgar. And I don't need a church in my community dictating what businesses can be in the community either.

  • SomeSense
    August 27, 2014 - 15:04

    Just goes to show you how a few out of touch loud mouths can get their way from a council that should know better.