Prostitution in Maple Ridge

October 28, 2011

Corisa Bell for Maple Ridge Council
Question asked at the Maple Ridge All Candidates meeting in Fraserview where candidates, including Corisa Bell, addressed specific questions.

Preamble: Currently there is a case being heard at the level of the Ontario supreme court as to whether the parts of the criminal code that pertain to prostitution and keeping a common bawdy house are in violation of the charter. Though prostitution is a federal jurisdiction it’s dealt with at the municipal level. Maple Ridge is not immune to the dealings around prostitution and there are a few streets in the downtown core that are well known as ‘strolls’ where a John could engage with a prostitute. As it stands countries such as New Zealand, the Netherlands and parts of Australia have introduced municipally based licensing in regards to prostitution; as well the state of Nevada has a similar structure in place.

Question: As prostitution has been occurring in the city for years and shows no sign of stopping should the city be proactive in planning a licensing system, if not what should the city do about prostitution?

As a criminology major I have studied prostitution in detail. Due to the potential Supreme Court ruling we looked extensively at the pros and cons of licensing and studied various academic journals citing entries both for and against licensing and the success of their implementations in other countries.

In concluding my research I feel that while licensing could make sense for indoor sex workers it will have a negative impact on street workers who generally work in prostitution due to poverty and drug addiction — which make up the majority of the prostitution problems here in Maple Ridge. Making it law for each prostitute to be licensed would prevent street prostitutes, who usually have previous criminal charges, from being licensed creating a greater disconnection from the community and from assistance which puts them at greater risk and in fact makes the prostitution problem worse. I feel the best course of action for such street workers are social programs that encourage change rather than enable their addictions.

After spending four months in a 400 level university course studying this exact concept, I would like to see some changes made. Though prostitution is currently addressed at the Federal level my hope is that one–day the municipality would have greater control and could deal with the issue at a more relevant case-by-case basis.

Click here to download responses to all 9 questions in PDF form

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