Regina city council is working to develop a bylaw to regulate massage parlours in the city.

Specifically, the city is looking to regulate businesses operating as a front for prostitution.

“This isn’t registered massage therapy, this isn’t rehabilitation massage,” Regina police Chief Evan Bray said on Wednesday morning. “These massage parlours, for all intents and purposes, are offering sexual services.”

According to the Regina Police Service, the bylaw is meant to help improve the safety of workers in those businesses. Officers are consulting with the city on the best way to enforce that bylaw once it comes into effect.

“The goal of the bylaw is to enhance the health and safety of not just the neighbourhood, but also the vulnerable people who are employed in these environments and again making sure that certain criteria are met,” Bray said.

In 2014, laws surrounding prostitution in Canada changed. According to the new law, it is legal to sell sexual services, but purchasing those services is a criminal offence.

“In order for us to lay a charge, we’re not going to charge the person in the massage parlour selling the service. It would only be the person who is purchasing it,” Bray said. “These businesses aren’t jumping up and down to provide us with statements that someone is coming in there and purchasing sexual services, because that’s their business.”

Mayor Michael Fougere said the city is considering how those laws have changed in order to come up with a bylaw for the city’s massage parlours.

“We needed to understand what that meant in terms of the application of the law and how the police will enforce that, how we as a city would look at the zoning of that and other criteria,” he said.

The city is also currently looking into whether a new underground strip club is violating any bylaws. Regina 151 opened its doors about five months in an industrial area in the east end. Currently, the city is examining whether it is violating any zoning laws. The results of that investigation will be released soon.

As for massage parlours, city administration is currently working on a report to present to council in the fall.

Police are hopeful the new bylaw with help with licensing and controlling the upwards of 20 parlours they believe are currently operating in the Queen City.

“If you have a bylaw, hopefully this isn’t as attractive of an area to set up shop as somewhere else that doesn’t have it,” Bray said.