By Patrick B. Craine

BELLEVILLE, Ontario, August 10, 2009 ( – The Belleville City Council approved on August 10th a bylaw that allows a third strip club, known as 'Doc's Palace', to open in an industrial-residential area of the city, reports the Belleville Intelligencer.

The building, recently purchased by brothers Carlos and Robert Moniz, is planned to house a Russian and Portuguese restaurant on the bottom floor, a strip bar on the second, and a 10-room hotel on the top.  They originally planned to have the building renovated this fall, and in operation by December.

In a vote of six to three, the Council renewed its 2003 bylaw, which expired in 2008, that identified three locations for strip clubs in the city – the two that are currently in operation and a third on Station Street, which has fallen into disrepair.  The six who voted in favour were: Mayor Neil Ellis, Couns. Jack Miller, Bob Dolan, Garnet Thompson, Pat Culhane, and Jackie Denyes.

While provincial law forbids municipalities from banning strip clubs, in their vote the Council had the opportunity to limit the city's strip clubs to the current two.  Their decision was not final, however, as they also determined that staff should review the bylaw to decide if changes were needed.

“It could add more clubs, it could remove clubs, it could introduce more rules, it could change locations….We don't know what may happen,” Mayor Ellis told the Intelligencer.

“One thing people have to realize is whether your moral compass is for these or against (strip clubs) that's not an issue under the Municipal Act,” he said.  “Your decision can't be based on moral subject.”

One Belleville resident who lives near the location, however, told the Intelligencer that the move contradicted the campaign promises of many of the councillors.  “This is the worst, shortsighted decision that council has made during its term – one that I believe will haunt them when the election comes around again,” he said.  “It compromises everything that many of those councillors – including Mayor Ellis – campaigned on…which were family values and helping Belleville become a destination for people to put down roots.”

Another resident, Jim Hillier, initiated a petition last week to keep the club from opening, and got 200 signatures, but was forced to cease his efforts due to intimidation.  “Things went quite well on Saturday morning until about 11 o'clock,” he told the Intelligencer.  “Over the course of the next half hour several cars came by and yelled obscenities and were calling me a homosexual and that type of stuff.”

“I talked to some of them but one guy actually tried to get out of his car because he wanted to thump me but his friends held him back,” he said.

Also having received a number of obscene phone calls at his home, Hillier added, “It's really sad that the intimidation has worked but I have young children and I don't want to draw anymore attention to myself or my family.”

“I feel horrible that the intimidation worked but I just can't take any risks.”

Due to the negative reaction from the community, the owners are struggling to get the building ready.  They may have to push their plans back to the spring.

“We've been shocked by what's happening,” Robert Moniz told the Intelligencer.  “We're the landlords and we're trying to get the place up and running but we can't even get local contractors who will come in and do the work. They don't even want to look at the work. We're calling in guys from Toronto to do the work and that's going to set us back.”

They have hired a lawyer, however, Moniz said, and are ready to fight any problems brought by city hall.

To contact Belleville's MPP (Prince Edward-Hastings riding):

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)
Unit 3
81 Millennium Parkway
Belleville, Ontario K8N 4Z5
Tel: 613-962-1144
Fax: 613-969-6381
E-mail: [email protected]
Toll Free: 1-877-536-6248

To contact the Belleville Mayor's Office:

His Worship Mayor Neil R. Ellis
169 Front St.
Belleville, Ontario K8N 2Y8
Tel: (613) 967-3267
Fax: (613) 967-3209
Email: [email protected]

To contact Belleville's MP:

Daryl Kramp
1 Millennium Parkway
Belleville, Ontario K8N 4Z5
Tel: 613-969-3800
Fax: 613-969-3803
E-mail: [email protected]

To contact your MPP: