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This article was published 4/3/2009 (4483 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A tattoo parlour would not be a proper neighbour for a school of immigrant children, say activists going to city hall today to block the business from opening only steps away from an inner-city classroom.
Tattoo and body-piercing shops, of the kind approved by the city at 402 Notre Dame Ave., attract members of criminal gangs, say people from the West Alexander neighbourhood near Central Park expected to appear this morning before the city's appeal committee.
If councillors reject their argument, the city will allow a tattoo parlour to open 70 metres away from a classroom used to introduce immigrant children between kindergarten and Grade 6 to life in Canada.
Nowhere else in Winnipeg would a school and a tattoo parlour exist so closely together, said officials of an international evangelical organization located between the classroom and the proposed tattoo parlour.
"It's not that I have a personal issue with tattooing," said Al Revet, the pastor at Love-N-Care Ministries.
"The big issue for me is how, in this area, (tattoo shops) are used for gang markings."
Revet runs the Canadian office of Love-N-Care, which he said caters to several hundred West Alexander residents, many of them newcomers.
The activists have a petition with about 300 names calling for the city to turn down the tattoo parlour licence application, Revet said.
The city determined in December that a tattoo and body-piercing parlour was operating at the Notre Dame address without a permit. That business has since closed down, city staff said in official documents.
In approving a proposal for another parlour, the city said tattoo and body-piercing shops are not in violation of the West Alexander neighbourhood plan.
The city imposed only one condition on the new parlour's licence application: that the shop submit any plans of signs or window displays to the planning department for approval and that such displays be properly maintained.
The owner of the property on which the parlour would be located could not be reached for comment.
Peter Todd, principal of The King's School, an independent Christian school in East Elmwood, oversees the school's off-site classroom at 372 Notre Dame Ave., which would be doors away from the proposed tattoo and body-piercing parlour.
The classroom is home to a program to teach immigrant children English, Bible studies and Canadian ways of life, as well as to make sure they meet levels of the province's education curriculum, Todd said.
The program is in its second year. Eighteen children, mostly from African countries, are enrolled, Todd added.
He said some children on Notre Dame had fallen in with youths later found to be gang members. He said he has personally confronted such youths near the classroom.
Todd, who also plans to go to city hall, said a tattoo parlour would potentially give children from his school a place to meet gang members.
"I'm not saying that tattoo parlours are hangouts for gangs," he said. "However, gangs are one of the groups that would go to places like that for their markings."