Layton may not have known the range of services offered at the Velvet Touch, but there is little confusion in 2011 over what services a number of so-called spas and holistic centres -among them some that are licensed by the city -are willing to provide for a cash fee. And there is little doubt these dubious businesses are proliferating.
One local business owner says the shop on Dundas Street has been locked since he moved to the area 2 1 /2 years ago, but he says massage services remain readily available in the area.
To prove his point, he motions to a woman across the street."That woman with the dog? She operates a rub-andtug upstairs. It's a bad neighbourhood for that."
There are 404 municipally licensed "holistic centres" and 25 "body rub parlours," in Toronto.
The number of illicit massage par-lours and holistic centres in the city is impossible to pinpoint, but a source in the strip-club industry estimates there are 800, while one city councillor suggests it is closer to 3,000.
The city introduced holistic licenses in 1999, in part at the behest of the industry, which argued it would give establishments a way to prove their legitimacy.
"In hindsight it's also opened a door for people to hide behind," says Bruce Robertson, director of licensing services at the city of Toronto.
He says illegal activity in both licensed and unlicensed premises has become "more of a problem" in Toronto and acknowledges that the city's approach is not working...Actually, it's working really well. The city is raking in the dough from "holistic" whorehouse licenses, and customers are leaving relaxed and satisfied. ;)