Toronto
2 min

What’s going on?

Bathhouse owners & cops hold closed-door shindig

STOP. About 60 people met in Cawthra Square Park this month to protest The Bijou mess. Credit: Mark Bogdanovic

A closed-door meeting with the head of 52 Division has done little to reassure the worried owners of Toronto bathhouses.



“My God,” said Pierre Fournier, one of the owners of the Spa On Maitland. “No, I’m not reassured. No I’m not.”



Fournier was one of the representatives from baths with liquor licences and a handful of cruise bars who met privately with Supt Aidan Maher last Thursday.



“There are cops who are out to get The Bijou,” alleged Fournier. “Unfortunately, Mr Maher has no power over this.”



Emerging from the 40-minute session, Spa Excess principal Peter Bochove said, “The meeting was called simply to react to the last police visit to The Bijou, which has everybody pretty antsy.”



Among other things, baths and bars were reminded of a three-step framework on how charges would come down.



On the first sighting of “objectional activity,” owners are to be cautioned. If behaviour isn’t “corrected,” cops will take step two and charge the owner. Finally, if dicks are still being sucked the third time around, everyone will be charged.



Responded Bochove: “Any understanding that may have existed in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s – not just for us, but for all bars – that is no longer the case…. Kyle [Rae] would dearly love to control the situation. But I don’t think Kyle can and I don’t think Aidan Maher can.”



Downtown City Councillor Rae arranged the get-together. Outgoing police chief David Boothby had been expected to attend, but didn’t show.



As for the guest of honour, Bijou bathhouse owner Craig Anderson boycotted the affair, saying he’s been here before. “I would imagine it’s the same old story,” says Anderson.



Police regularly visited The Bijou last year, charging 19 people in total (Anderson eventually shut it down). Charges were later dropped, but the city’s top Crown attorney called it a one-time deal.



Police have visited The Bijou at least twice since its millennial re-opening (when the porn theatre became a licensed bathhouse).



According to various reports from the meeting, it was suggested that police might back off if Anderson gave up part of his liquor licence, thereby keeping The Bijou’s play areas dry.



Anderson says he’s not interested, and notes he hasn’t been found guilty of anything.



“They never run to the bar. They run to the slurp ramp. They’re pre-occupied with the slurp ramp and have been for seven months. Shit, they should build their own.”



Maher confirms that a disorderly conduct charge against The Bijou under the Liquor Licence Act will go ahead. “A charge will be laid.” he said after the meeting.



Braving sub-zero temperatures, some 60 activists marched through the gay ghetto Jan 15 enroute to the College St police headquarters to demonstrate against the latest police action.



Says June 13 Committee member Tom Warner: “There seems to be an increase in the amount of harassment going on in certain bars and an increased police presence.



“The actions of the police are not acceptable, and clearly harassment of certain establishments in our community with a view to driving them out of business is simply not acceptable.”



The committee can be reached at june13committee@hotmail.com.