INNISFAIL – Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop is now legally open following a highly publicized and emotionally charged week of rebellion that led to provincial charges for violating COVID restrictions, one town councillor resigning, a municipal review and serious questions being asked by less than supportive competitors.
Last week, the province eased some COVID restrictions that would take effect as of Jan. 18. These included the reopening by appointment only for personal and wellness services, including hair salons and barbershops.
The re-opening of personal services is a huge development in light of the growing number of complaints and defiance of several hair salons across the province, most notably by Innisfail's Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop.
The local business illegally reopened last week from Jan. 12 to 14 and is now facing two provincial charges for violating COVID restrictions. The owners will be in Red Deer provincial court on March 8.
The barbershop shut its doors again last Friday (Jan. 15) when the province announced its easing of restrictions beginning Jan. 18.
However, many other hair salon owners in town were not happy about the way Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop went about their campaign of defiance.
Yesterday (Jan. 18) at town council, a delegation of hair salon owners was scheduled to make a presentation to town council.
Donna Nazar-Whitehead, owner of Adonia Beauty and Wellness, said the aim of the delegation was to find out what the town is doing about the illegal action of the rebellious barbershop.
“We want answers,” said Nazar-Whitehead on Jan. 18 before the presentation. “They broke the law. As for Innisfail council, what are they doing?
“Do you mean any of us can go and break the law in town? And another thing is that they didn’t have a pet grooming licence,” she said, noting Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop had briefly rebranded their business before the province eased their restrictions last week. “Why wasn’t their licence revoked? Why did this get to that point?”
However, the Town of Innisfail has taken a serious interest in the case.
Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer, said the town is reviewing its Business License Bylaw to determine whether any municipal section was broken during the barbershop’s defiance of provincial COVID restrictions, as well as sorting out whether enforcement should have been undertaken.
"We've had a lot of public feedback and inquiry about the application of the business licence and its regulatory ability to impact this hair salon working outside the boundaries of the provincial government restrictions,” said Becker. “I am actually reviewing the bylaw now to determine its place with this situation."
“What I am doing is determining the authority of the bylaw, what merit does it have regarding this situation,” he said, adding he’s also trying to determine the town’s options of enforcement, such as possible fines and even reviewing the future legitimacy of the licence.
“Those are the questions that I need to answer. How does this bylaw apply to this current situation with this business?”
Becker said he will bring his review findings to town council on Jan. 25.
Natalie Klein, a co-owner of Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop, said on Jan. 15 the town did call her to let her know her booking site was registered at a local mobile home court, with her business licence not being valid for that location.
She said she assured the town her business was located elsewhere, and that she neither lives or operates a business at any Innisfail mobile home park.
As for any potential municipal bylaw violation, Klein said she has not heard anything from the town on that issue.
Last week also saw Coun. Jean Barclay post a lengthy Facebook message to the community in response to the many calls and messages she received from citizens over the controversial Bladez re-opening.
“You have told me over and over how you have chosen to follow the public health guidelines even though you are struggling because you want to keep your community and family safe and you understand the more you can help the better it will be for everyone,” wrote Barclay.
“Above all else, you recognize that your sacrifice is what community is all about. You are heard, you are appreciated, and you are supported by those of us who care,” added Barclay.
“It has been non-stop the last few days and even you who called and we talked on the phone for over three hours, I get it.
“Thank you for being responsible citizens and doing all you are doing for the collective good.”