Feb 2, 2013 / 5:00 am
The place where strippers once peeled off their clothes and locals bellied up to the bar has been gone for a year now.
They may not have paved paradise, but they did put up a parking lot. Where Slack Alice’s Show Pub once stood, they now park cars.
For now, at least, it appears the Penticton location will remain just that.
“I don’t know what we are going to do yet. There is talk all the time, but nothing definite,” said owner Tony Chan. “It is free parking for right now.”
City officials said they have not been notified of any proposals for the site and there has been little movement there.
The city has, however, recently contacted the owner that if he wants to continue using it as a lot, he needs to apply for the appropriate permit to use it as such, said Anthony Haddad, the city's director of development services.
Flames ripped through Slack Alice’s, along with the Chinese Laundry restaurant and Bubblee’s Beer and Wine store on Feb. 5, 2012.
The building was destroyed, and the cause of the fire was never determined.
People who were employed at the businesses were left without work, and it left a hole on Front Street.
A piece of Penticton’s history was lost as well.
The Valley Motor Inn, which housed Slack Alice’s, was first known as the BC Hotel.
Built in 1905, it had a bordello on the top floor for the orchardists, ranch hands and miners who worked in the South Okanagan, according to local historians.
In 1982, Slack Alice’s was opened by Gordon Bell of Alberta and thousands of exotic dancers performed there over the years.
It is unlikely the site will return to what some might consider its former glory.
“There will probably not be another strip club. That time is past,” said Chan.
Many in the city agree.
“Now that it is gone no one has ever talked about one coming up again,” said Councillor Helena Konanz. “Maybe strip clubs are a thing of the past here. I don’t hear people saying I really miss that club. Still it has to have affected people even if they are not talking about it.”
Even Councillor John Vassilaki, an outspoken advocate for improved nightlife in the city, agrees the time of strip clubs in Penticton appears to be over.
“I don’t think anyone will build anything like that in Penticton,” he said. “The club business is not happening in the city, with all the young people, 25 to 40, gone to Alberta to find jobs.”
There should still be a nightlife, said the councillor and former restaurant owner, but more along the lines of restaurants, comedy clubs and wine bars.
“Right now you can’t even get a cup of coffee in the downtown after 7 p.m.,” he said.
Other business people in the area said they were happy Slack Alice’s is no more. Many said they would like to see a big restaurant or something similar to what you find in Vancouver’s Yaletown, retail shops with residential spaces above.
Jeanette Beaven, co-owner of the Dragon’s Den in Penticton, said she misses the businesses that were there and feels bad for the people who lost their jobs.
But in her eyes, strip bars are simply old-fashioned.
“They started as men’s clubs to keep women out, and women now go wherever they want,” she said. “I have nothing against them, I just think they are passé."
“It used to be too, that we had more miners and loggers coming through. Now all the guys get jobs up north.”
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