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Why a B.C. city ended its decades-long ban on tattoo shops

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Up until this week, opening a tattoo parlour in the Township of Langley in B.C.’s Fraser Valley was technically illegal.

City council voted on Monday to reverse a decades-old bylaw that banned the practice in the township after one woman came forward with a plan to offer a free cosmetic service for people who have experienced adversity or hair loss due to medical conditions.

Avneet Kaur Chahal, an aesthetician working out of a beauty salon in Aldergrove, wanted to offer procedures called powder ombre brows and nano strokes, which are tiny, semi-permanent eyebrow tattoos that mimic the look of hair strokes to create full, defined brows.

She’s also a trauma therapist, and wanted to combine her passion for helping others with her salon business.

“I realized that there are a lot of folks who have faced adversity or any sort of medical condition who often have a difficult time re-recognizing themselves after those events have occurred,” she told CTV News.

“A new sense of self, a sense of feeling good comes from even just a set of eyebrows.”

When trying to get this idea off the ground, she learned that permanent makeup services fall under the definition of tattoo in the bylaw.

“Today, in 2023, tattoos are just a form of art. So therefore, I really thought it was time for it to go,” Chahal said.

She brought the issue to Coun. Barb Martens, who in turn advocated on her behalf to end the ban at city hall.

Martens told CTV News the bylaw amendment passed 8-1 with little debate on Monday.

She said a number of people already offer cosmetic tattoo services, like what Chahal wants to do, in the township, but now they’re officially operating legitimately.

On the books, the bylaw dates back to 1987, but Martens said the rule is likely much older.

“It goes back to the days when tattoo parlors were associated with nefarious activities and organized crime, gangs and all the rest. You know, obviously, that's probably half a century ago at this point, or a century ago,” she said.

“It has nothing to do with illegal activity at all anymore. I mean, just using the word parlour,” Martens said, adding that she got staff to search if there were any businesses left in the township that were classified by the municipality as ‘parlours.’ There weren’t. “This was the only parlour and that just goes to the how outdated it was.”

As a memento of the old bylaw, Chahal is naming her beauty salon “Spring Parlour.”

“Parlour, I kept that on, because I wanted to pay tribute to the origin, which is we got rid of this bylaw in order for this parlour to exist,” she said.

And the “Spring” part stands for renewal, she added.

How does Chahal feel after the bylaw was changed so she could give the gift of a confidence boost to those who need it?

“I feel so happy. I feel just absolutely thrilled that it’s possible make bigger changes and I’m excited for young entrepreneurs. I'm hoping this is inspirational to others,” she said.

“My ancestors would be proud because I am a first generation individual here and it makes it worth it.” Top Stories

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