Hamilton licensing tribunal upholds denial of business licence to Stoney Creek spa

News Sep 15, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s licensing tribunal has upheld a decision to deny a business licence to a Stoney Creek spa owner, claiming the business was advertising prohibited adult entertainment services on Backpage.ca.

Shujie Tao, owner and operator of Serenity Wellness Spa, at 259 Hwy. 8, appeared at a Sept. 15 licensing tribunal hearing to appeal the previous decision made by the city’s licensing director, Ken Leendertse.

City prosecutor Linda Clayton called two witnesses to testify on the city’s behalf -- licensing officer Jim Gordon and supervisor of licensing compliance Dan Smith. Both men interviewed Tao for her licence application.

Gordon met with Tao twice this year to discuss the application for a personal wellness service establishment licence, once in April and a second time on June 23. Tao had recently purchased the business from her cousin.

Gordon said he informed Tao about the Backpage advertising issue during the April meeting. It was determined at that time that an interpreter would be required to assist Tao, who is of Chinese origin.

In his testimony to the tribunal, Gordon said he asked Tao several questions during the June 23 interview.

When asked for her background in a personal wellness environment, Gordon said Tao replied she had four years experience in holistic massage in Mississauga, providing lower back, shoulder, hot stone and Swedish massages, as well as reflexology.

“I brought up that she was advertising on Backpage. She was not aware of Backpage,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When Clayton asked Gordon how easy it was to find the advertising, Gordon responded, “quite easy.”

Gordon said he entered the search terms, “adult massage,” along with “Stoney Creek,” the business name and the address.

Tao later told the tribunal the ad was placed by her cousin and that she was unable to remove it from the website. Through an interpreter, she said the spa does not offer adult entertainment or body rub services, and that anyone requesting such services would be turned away.

Gordon said he also asked Tao if she had ever worked at an establishment on Speers Road in Oakville, to which, he said, Tao responded she had not.

Gordon said he then presented Tao with an article from the Burlington Post, dated Nov. 25, 2009, that states Tao was charged with being an inmate of a common bawdy house. The article references a police raid at Vista Spa, at 2544 Speers Rd. Gordon noted the name and age of one of the suspects matched the name and age Tao provided on her licence application.

“I think she was surprised that she had been shown the article,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When asked why she had not disclosed her connection to Vista Spa, Tao told the tribunal she had only been working at the establishment for three days to help a friend and that she was only working on clients’ nails.

“I saw the newspaper and it reminded me,” Tao said through the interpreter. It was only three days and it was the worst day of my life.”

Despite assurances from Tao that Serenity does not provide adult entertainment services, Clayton argued in her closing statement the tribunal should be concerned that the appellant appeared to take no steps to remedy the advertising issue in the weeks between April and June.

“The problem, though, is the honesty and integrity issue,” said Clayton.

In her testimony, Tao said she was offended by the assertion that she is “not honest.”

“I’ve been here 11 years in Canada and I know what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing to do. I would not have done things that are illegal,” she said through an interpreter.

Tao said her business specializes in providing massages for steelworkers, construction workers and truck drivers.

“I help whoever needs help,” Tao said. “You may not want to give me a licence, but I do not want to be called ‘not honest.’”

In the end, the tribunal deliberated for less than five minutes before reaching a decision.

While announcing the ruling, tribunal chair Terry Whitehead said Hamilton business owners who fail to heed the city’s bylaws shouldn’t be in business. He also questioned Tao’s apparent failure to correct the misleading advertising.

“The actions speak louder than the words,” said Whitehead.

Hamilton licensing tribunal upholds denial of business licence to Stoney Creek spa

News Sep 15, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s licensing tribunal has upheld a decision to deny a business licence to a Stoney Creek spa owner, claiming the business was advertising prohibited adult entertainment services on Backpage.ca.

Shujie Tao, owner and operator of Serenity Wellness Spa, at 259 Hwy. 8, appeared at a Sept. 15 licensing tribunal hearing to appeal the previous decision made by the city’s licensing director, Ken Leendertse.

City prosecutor Linda Clayton called two witnesses to testify on the city’s behalf -- licensing officer Jim Gordon and supervisor of licensing compliance Dan Smith. Both men interviewed Tao for her licence application.

Gordon met with Tao twice this year to discuss the application for a personal wellness service establishment licence, once in April and a second time on June 23. Tao had recently purchased the business from her cousin.

Gordon said he informed Tao about the Backpage advertising issue during the April meeting. It was determined at that time that an interpreter would be required to assist Tao, who is of Chinese origin.

In his testimony to the tribunal, Gordon said he asked Tao several questions during the June 23 interview.

When asked for her background in a personal wellness environment, Gordon said Tao replied she had four years experience in holistic massage in Mississauga, providing lower back, shoulder, hot stone and Swedish massages, as well as reflexology.

“I brought up that she was advertising on Backpage. She was not aware of Backpage,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When Clayton asked Gordon how easy it was to find the advertising, Gordon responded, “quite easy.”

Gordon said he entered the search terms, “adult massage,” along with “Stoney Creek,” the business name and the address.

Tao later told the tribunal the ad was placed by her cousin and that she was unable to remove it from the website. Through an interpreter, she said the spa does not offer adult entertainment or body rub services, and that anyone requesting such services would be turned away.

Gordon said he also asked Tao if she had ever worked at an establishment on Speers Road in Oakville, to which, he said, Tao responded she had not.

Gordon said he then presented Tao with an article from the Burlington Post, dated Nov. 25, 2009, that states Tao was charged with being an inmate of a common bawdy house. The article references a police raid at Vista Spa, at 2544 Speers Rd. Gordon noted the name and age of one of the suspects matched the name and age Tao provided on her licence application.

“I think she was surprised that she had been shown the article,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When asked why she had not disclosed her connection to Vista Spa, Tao told the tribunal she had only been working at the establishment for three days to help a friend and that she was only working on clients’ nails.

“I saw the newspaper and it reminded me,” Tao said through the interpreter. It was only three days and it was the worst day of my life.”

Despite assurances from Tao that Serenity does not provide adult entertainment services, Clayton argued in her closing statement the tribunal should be concerned that the appellant appeared to take no steps to remedy the advertising issue in the weeks between April and June.

“The problem, though, is the honesty and integrity issue,” said Clayton.

In her testimony, Tao said she was offended by the assertion that she is “not honest.”

“I’ve been here 11 years in Canada and I know what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing to do. I would not have done things that are illegal,” she said through an interpreter.

Tao said her business specializes in providing massages for steelworkers, construction workers and truck drivers.

“I help whoever needs help,” Tao said. “You may not want to give me a licence, but I do not want to be called ‘not honest.’”

In the end, the tribunal deliberated for less than five minutes before reaching a decision.

While announcing the ruling, tribunal chair Terry Whitehead said Hamilton business owners who fail to heed the city’s bylaws shouldn’t be in business. He also questioned Tao’s apparent failure to correct the misleading advertising.

“The actions speak louder than the words,” said Whitehead.

Hamilton licensing tribunal upholds denial of business licence to Stoney Creek spa

News Sep 15, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s licensing tribunal has upheld a decision to deny a business licence to a Stoney Creek spa owner, claiming the business was advertising prohibited adult entertainment services on Backpage.ca.

Shujie Tao, owner and operator of Serenity Wellness Spa, at 259 Hwy. 8, appeared at a Sept. 15 licensing tribunal hearing to appeal the previous decision made by the city’s licensing director, Ken Leendertse.

City prosecutor Linda Clayton called two witnesses to testify on the city’s behalf -- licensing officer Jim Gordon and supervisor of licensing compliance Dan Smith. Both men interviewed Tao for her licence application.

Gordon met with Tao twice this year to discuss the application for a personal wellness service establishment licence, once in April and a second time on June 23. Tao had recently purchased the business from her cousin.

Gordon said he informed Tao about the Backpage advertising issue during the April meeting. It was determined at that time that an interpreter would be required to assist Tao, who is of Chinese origin.

In his testimony to the tribunal, Gordon said he asked Tao several questions during the June 23 interview.

When asked for her background in a personal wellness environment, Gordon said Tao replied she had four years experience in holistic massage in Mississauga, providing lower back, shoulder, hot stone and Swedish massages, as well as reflexology.

“I brought up that she was advertising on Backpage. She was not aware of Backpage,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When Clayton asked Gordon how easy it was to find the advertising, Gordon responded, “quite easy.”

Gordon said he entered the search terms, “adult massage,” along with “Stoney Creek,” the business name and the address.

Tao later told the tribunal the ad was placed by her cousin and that she was unable to remove it from the website. Through an interpreter, she said the spa does not offer adult entertainment or body rub services, and that anyone requesting such services would be turned away.

Gordon said he also asked Tao if she had ever worked at an establishment on Speers Road in Oakville, to which, he said, Tao responded she had not.

Gordon said he then presented Tao with an article from the Burlington Post, dated Nov. 25, 2009, that states Tao was charged with being an inmate of a common bawdy house. The article references a police raid at Vista Spa, at 2544 Speers Rd. Gordon noted the name and age of one of the suspects matched the name and age Tao provided on her licence application.

“I think she was surprised that she had been shown the article,” Gordon told the tribunal.

When asked why she had not disclosed her connection to Vista Spa, Tao told the tribunal she had only been working at the establishment for three days to help a friend and that she was only working on clients’ nails.

“I saw the newspaper and it reminded me,” Tao said through the interpreter. It was only three days and it was the worst day of my life.”

Despite assurances from Tao that Serenity does not provide adult entertainment services, Clayton argued in her closing statement the tribunal should be concerned that the appellant appeared to take no steps to remedy the advertising issue in the weeks between April and June.

“The problem, though, is the honesty and integrity issue,” said Clayton.

In her testimony, Tao said she was offended by the assertion that she is “not honest.”

“I’ve been here 11 years in Canada and I know what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing to do. I would not have done things that are illegal,” she said through an interpreter.

Tao said her business specializes in providing massages for steelworkers, construction workers and truck drivers.

“I help whoever needs help,” Tao said. “You may not want to give me a licence, but I do not want to be called ‘not honest.’”

In the end, the tribunal deliberated for less than five minutes before reaching a decision.

While announcing the ruling, tribunal chair Terry Whitehead said Hamilton business owners who fail to heed the city’s bylaws shouldn’t be in business. He also questioned Tao’s apparent failure to correct the misleading advertising.

“The actions speak louder than the words,” said Whitehead.