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Marpole divided on Gallery Show Lounge ‘gentlemen’s club’

The “gentlemen’s club” set to open in Marpole claims it will employ some of the most beautiful women in the country.
Gallery Show Lounge
Mike Burdick, spokesperson of the Marpole Residents Coalition and resident of 35 years, said many do not see the Gallery Show Lounge as a problem because the former Fraser Arms Hotel operated a strip club. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The “gentlemen’s club” set to open in Marpole claims it will employ some of the most beautiful women in the country. A large billboard at the site of the future location featuring three scantily clad women has some residents concerned about the Gallery Show Lounge while others are indifferent to it.

The issue came up at a July meeting of the Marpole Residents Coalition. About 50 people were in attendance.

Mike Burdick, the coalition’s spokesperson and resident of 35 years, said for the most part, the community agreed it wasn’t a big deal, but there were a few residents who were passionately against the strip club.

“I know it offends a lot of people and it’s probably abhorrent to some, but the people that own the license have every right to make money on their license until the city says ‘no, you can’t do that,’” said Burdick.

The location at 1312 SW Marine Dr. is the former site of the Wild Coyote and Motel nightclubs and near the former site of the Fraser Arms Hotel, which operated a strip bar until 2004.

The lounge isn’t a problem for some residents because it isn’t a new issue to them, said Burdick.

Bree Gilroyed, who has worked in Marpole for about a year, recently moved into the area.

“It doesn’t really phase me that much, it’s just a business,” said Gilroyed. “Sex is selling over all of our billboards, so to me it’s just another thing that happens when you get more populated… I do think it’s a little bit strange because it’s not like downtown… Are people really going to come travel that far? I guess we’ll find out.”

Nicola Khan, nearby resident and parent, fears for the neighbourhood’s families due to the club’s clientele. She cited the abundance of family amenities within two blocks of the club including daycares, a Montessori preschool, a learning centre for children with autism and St. Anthony of Padua Catholic elementary school.

“Marpole’s kind of like a safe haven,” said Khan. “Obviously [the Gallery Show Lounge is] going to be like the kind of place where the gangsters are going to go. They’re not really welcome downtown in a lot of establishments and want to go somewhere where they can go and have their own private Idaho. It’s like a pedophile’s dream.”

She is aware of the previous nightclubs but believes the show lounge will bring a different crowd of “riffraff.” Khan is also worried about gun violence and suggested a bulletproof barrier be put up in front of the club.

Dominko Komnenovic, senior project manager at the B.C. ministry of transportation, is a parent and Marpole resident of 10 years. He doesn’t think the location is worth the worry. “You have to cross two Marine Drives, with the median, and then go under the ramp and it’s only in the corner close to the rail track. It’s secluded.”

Komnenovic also doesn’t think parents or children are going to wander there because there is nothing nearby to draw families. “Even if gangsters are going to come at midnight, my kid’s going to be in bed,” he said. “It’s not like they’re going to be dancing in the parking lot.”

Last Friday, the club’s Facebook page said it would be opening “within a couple months.”

Many residents contacted the Marpole BIA despite the location being out of the association’s area. In response, the BIA contacted the city, which said the business is meeting regulations.

“They’re talking about an upscale facility,” said BIA executive director Claudia Laroye. “That will be seen how it plays out on our community perspective.”

— with files from Sandra Thomas.