On June 22, 2015, Fredericton City Council announced that they would lease the iRock location in Fredericton’s downtown to the tune of $150,000 so that an exotic dancing license would expire.
Reproductive Justice NB is concerned by the lack of public say over the city’s spending decisions as well as the poor choice of words around sex work.
“This will protect the long-term quality of life in the downtown, protect the long-term property values in the downtown, and minimize long term policing/social costs that can be associated with establishments of this kind,” read a statement from Fredericton City Council on the initial plan to buy out the iRock lease.
“Instead of policing women’s bodies, why don’t you use the $150,000 to provide gender affirming medical procedures for bodies that desperately need and want them,” posted local writer A.R. Jardine who like many others took to social media to express their opposition to the purchase of the lease.
Reproductive Justice NB (RJNB) knows what $150,000 can buy. RJNB recently fundraised $125,000 to support the purchase of Clinic 554 so that clinical abortion services could be restored in Fredericton.
The City of Fredericton clearly needs to take steps towards democratic planning and participatory budgets to ensure the needs of all our citizens are met. Housing, transit, bike lanes and addiction recovery programs are just some of the areas that the city needs to spend more money on instead of unwise investments that do not have the support of the local population. A poll in a CBC New Brunswick story from June 25th had 72% of people opposed to the purchase of the iRock lease and only 12% in favour.
Exotic dancing like other sex work is often subject to attacks by conservative elements and forces of gentrification that ultimately protect private property to the detriment of people. Fredericton spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of another strip club venue on Fredericton’s north side a few years ago. Canada is currently deporting immigrant massage parlour workers, instead of giving these workers citizenship.
Fredericton City Council’s words last week shamed and stigmatized sex work, which by extension, dehumanizes and endangers the people doing that work. Reproductive Justice NB says exotic dancers are welcome here.
Tracy Glynn is a member of Reproductive Justice NB.