Anne MacNiven stands by a new store she opposes, just opened in Charlottetown at the corner of Euston and Upper Hillsborough streets. Called Taboo Company: Adult Store-Smoke shop, MacNiven and other residents nearby say two schools are so close by, that a school crossing guard is located right by this store's front door.
©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong
A new adult novelty store in Charlottetown is raising eyebrows and ire among some nearby residents.
Homeowners and residents of the area surrounding the Taboo Company on Euston Street are upset the business has been allowed to open in their neighbourhood, and are registering their complaints with city hall.
Anne MacNiven says her main concern is for the children who live in the area.
The shop sells sex toys, lingerie and paraphernalia such as pipes, hookahs and scales.
It is located between two Charlottetown schools, at an intersection where a crossing guard is posted during school hours.
“There are kids walking back and forth in front of the store, there are kids in carriages that are too young to speak being wheeled by the window,” MacNiven said.
She pointed to two photographs she took of the display in the large storefront windows. The photos show two novelty mugs depicting the children’s characters Spongebob Squarepants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On top of the mugs are bottles of edible massage oils with suggestive photos on the labels. Next to the mugs is a large, black leather whip.
MacNevin says she worries children walking by the store will be attracted by their favourite characters on the mugs, then exposed to adult products.
“The kids have to walk past these windows on their way to school in the morning and then they get exposed to it again in the afternoon, five days a week for the whole school year, if that business stays there.”
Coun. Mitch Tweel, who represents the ward, says he has been inundated with complaints from area residents.
“They are very, very, very upset.”
Tweel said the neighbourhood has been improving over the last few years, with a number of young families buying properties and renovating their homes.
“This kind of development is a total contradiction and flies in the face of all the hard work that has gone into this area.”
The building was one of many corner stores throughout the city grandfathered into the city’s zoning bylaws to allow them to continue to operate as commercial businesses, despite the fact they are located in residential areas.
Each time one of these locations gets a new tenant, a new development agreement is required.
The Taboo Company has applied to Charlottetown city council for a variance to allow it to continue to operate in its current location.
This prompted the flurry of complaints from neighbours and nearby residents.
But business owner Chaylon Brewster was surprised to hear there was so much opposition to his store.
He says he has been working with the city and the province since February to ensure he meets all the proper requirements to operate.
He originally applied to the city to cover the big storefront windows of his store, but this request was denied. He then built shadow boxes that conceal the store’s interior.
There is also a large 19+ sign on the door, located at waist level so no child could see into the shop and would clearly see the shop is not for them.
Earlier this week, a provincial health inspector also visited and inspected the property and gave it approval to sell tobacco.
Brewster’s wife Amy says she understands why people might have concerns, given the nature of their business.
“I know that there has been other locations that have been through similar things,” she said.
“But there’s nothing offensive in our windows and we’re an adults-only store… we’re community people and we want to make sure there’s nobody hurt or offended by this.”
Their variance application will go to the city’s planning board in July.
Planning board chair Coun. Rob Lantz says he too has received complaints from the residents about the business, but will reserve judgment until he has received all the facts.
“The question is, is this use appropriate for the neighbourhood?” he said.
“We have heard very clear, fair, legitimate concerns from the neighbourhood and those will be top of mind when it finally does get to city hall for review.”