Remove Street Prostitution From Our Community

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It’s Time.
The City of Calgary has a blemish on its record. East Calgary is home to the community of Forest Lawn and to a real social issue. Since 1993, the residents of Forest Lawn have been forced to deal with a problem that has been eliminated in every other residential community in Calgary. Street prostitution.

in 1993 the city of Calgary and the Calgary police service put a program into place that restricted the geographic location of certain people. Those people were sex workers and John’s and the area they were prohibited from being in was the community of Inglewood in SE Calgary. The result of this geographic restriction was the removal of prostitution from that community.

Following this crackdown on sex workers and John’s in the community came the involuntary relocation of the trade to a new – apparently more palatable – location, Forest Lawn.

For over 25 years this community of nearly Ten Thousand residents has been left to handle this social issue – and the residual issues – largely alone. Despite the calls of residents to the city, the police, social agencies, news agencies and to anyone else who would listen – their concerns and fears have fallen on deaf ears.

Their concerns are very real. At any given time you can find women plying their trade on 19th Avenue SE – down a strip that is known by the police as ‘The Stroll’.

What you can also see at any given time is vehicles that have come to our community looking to buy women. Not just any women but, women with poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. These women are in positions that make them extremely vulnerable – and the type of people coming into our community are looking for that.

As a community, we have had to accept that our family members walk down the same streets as men drive down to look for vulnerable women – with many having stories of being propositioned, cat called, and generally feeling unsafe in their community.

It wouldn’t be a strange sight to see 10 sex trade workers at the right hour. This can make it difficult for John’s to differentiate between a working woman and our average community member. Because of this, we continue to have cars that pull up next to the women – and men – of our community and proposition them for sex. Our community is full of stories from women of all ages who have had strange men they don’t know, drive up next to them well they are walking – and ask for sex.

Of course, this is not normal. It is unsafe for our community and due to the nature of street prostitution – it comes with many other social issues – drug use, public intoxication, public sex, nudity, petty theft, and potentially the most lingering – used condoms and feminine hygiene products.

While all of this is bad, we have to remember that this is on a residential street. As a community, we are all subject to this on a daily basis. It is unusual that a problem of this type and seriousness hasn’t been addressed by those with the ability to do so.

The position of the City Police to this point seems to be that there isn’t much they can do and that the real victims are the women on the street. The Councillor for the area has offered a lackluster response and has said recently that the City can’t afford to add lights to the area – while at the same time lending support for a supervised drug use site proposed to be at the end of the same strip.

The overall reaction from officials has effectively been that the community should just deal with it – The same community who has been forced to endure through the struggles of this major social issue and all of the additional problems associated with it. After all, having street sex work left on the streets of Forest Lawn has created a reputation that has been hard for this community of families to shake.

The underlying issues that create street prostitution are complex and will not be solved by our community of under ten thousand people. It will take provincial and federal governments, social organizations and years of planning to address the issue.

Until a time that street prostitution no longer exists – The City of Calgary, the Calgary Police, and the other stakeholders need to begin working on ways to shift street prostitution out of residential areas.

Building safe communities is a difficult task. Removing street prostitution from our community is going to be difficult but – it needs to happen.

It is evident that the need for change is here. We are asking that our officials take action immediately. Don’t leave it up to our community to solve some of societies largest issues – help us make our community a safer place to live.

It would be wrong to think there isn’t anything we can do – we’ve done it before.

It’s Time, Calgary. Let’s remove street prostitution from our community. 


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