Resident wants prostitutes out of area

Andrew Robinson
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Says johns are soliciting random women walking through downtown neighbourhood

St. John's City Hall. — file photo

Over the last two years, one resident of the Livingstone Street area of St. John’s says, his neighbourhood has become a regular pickup area for prostitutes, and he would like authorities to deal with the issue, but is not convinced much will get done.

“The situation we find ourselves in is that no one is doing anything for us at all,” said the man, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “We’re being regularly intimidated. We’re being harassed. We have these johns driving around our houses. The city won’t do anything for us. The (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) won’t do anything for us. What are we left with?”

Any day of the week, he can spot prostitutes in the area, he said.

He said there were five working the streets Sunday evening, with pimps typically located nearby. He said male drivers circle the area in their vehicles until they find the girl they want.

In his view, more would get done to deal with the matter if he lived in a wealthier residential neighbourhood in St. John’s.

“How’s that fair? I pay my taxes just as well as anyone else in the city.”

He understands it is not illegal for a person to merely stand on the side of the road and that police are likely unable to make arrests unless they witness the exchange of money in tandem with an intimate act.


“It’s not illegal for someone to stand on the sidewalk,” he said. “They can stand there as long as they want … in the same way that it’s alright for you or I or someone who is waiting for the bus. But the problem is when they’re sitting on your doorstep or their pimp is sitting across from your house, or when your girlfriend doesn’t want to come to your house because she’s been solicited.”

If the City of St. John’s introduced a no-loitering or no-soliciting bylaw, he said, that could be used in relation to both prostitutes and johns, but he has been told the city is not interested in creating such a bylaw.

Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary, who set up a meeting in March to talk about crime in the nearby Tessier Place area involving the city, local residents and police, said those measures would not make a difference, noting it can be hard to define activities as loitering. She said such bylaws would not be enforceable.

Prostitution was among the subjects brought up at that meeting in March, as was the case during a meeting she attended the following month at which residents of Tessier Place formed a neighbourhood committee. Tessier Place is located directly behind Livingstone Street.

While O’Leary has heard of an improved situation of late in relation to the presence of prostitutes in the Livingstone Street area, she cautioned that moving them out of the area does not happen just like that, adding that prostitutes tend to move around the city every few years.

At one point prostitutes in the downtown area mostly congregated in the east end and later moved to an area near the Anglican Church, according to O’Leary.

She said there is a need to look at the social issues facing prostitutes working in the area. O’Leary said many are dealing with substance abuse issues. Getting away from the profession is not easy, she added, given the presence of a pimp in most situations.

The local resident wonders what further measures should be taken beyond letting authorities deal with the situation. He’s even had thoughts about attempting to publicly identify some of the clients he has spotted in the area.

“Kind of the theory that if you remove the person who is funding the prostitutes, then you remove the prostitutes to a degree,” he said, noting the licence plates of vehicles picking up prostitutes are visible.

“What people are telling me is I have to become a criminal to defeat this. I have to take justice into my own hands. And that’s not fair and that’s not right. It puts me in the situation of compromising my own values, as well as compromising my own possible safety and the safety of my neighbours and the safety of my home.”

If legalization of prostitution were to become a reality — an Ontario Court of Appeal has struck down aspects of the Criminal Code relating to brothels — he wonders whether that might eliminate street efforts to sell sex.

“Maybe I have to change my perspective on it,” he said. “You can’t get rid of this problem. I understand it’s the ‘oldest profession in the world.’ If you can’t get rid of it, maybe you should embrace it.”

In a statement emailed to The Telegram, an RNC spokeswoman said prostitution “is a complex social issue,” making specific reference to addictions, mental health, poverty and housing.

“It transcends many facets of government services,” she said.

The RNC has collaborated on the matter with the Community Youth Network and the Provincial Advisory Council for the Status of Women. It has also worked with the City of

St. John’s and the Neighborhood Watch co-ordinator to create a neighbourhood watch for the Livingstone Street area.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew


Organizations: Anglican Church, RNC, Ontario Court Community Youth Network Provincial Advisory Council for the Status of Women

Geographic location: Livingstone Street, Tessier Place

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Recent comments

  • seanoairborne
    June 11, 2013 - 14:31

    Legal brothels is the answer.In the few cities in the US, that have legal brothels, there is no problem.In fact the women are checked for STDs by the medics once every six months in Nevada by law,where prostitution is legal.And brothels are taxed.You're never going to get rid of prostitution.So,be smart, tax it and keep it off the streets and put the ones that continue on the streets in the hooscow with hefty fines.Those measures will take care of 95 pct of what's taking place in people's neighborhoods in your city!Just a common sense suggestion!

  • Tim Jamison
    June 11, 2013 - 12:30

    The only way to fix this is to get the police to do stings in the area frequently and for a long time. If you post the offenders' information publically and mess up and wrongfully accuse someone, which is inevitable, you will be liable, which I guess isn't really a big deal if you have nothing in the first place, because the broke cannot be sued (you can't squeeze water from rocks). If you apporach a pimp or a prostitute, even in numbers, you will get peppersprayed if you get confrontational. They are prepared for violence. It's a part of the trade. Either the police will do their jobs, or they won't. It's the story of Canadian life

    • seanoairborne
      June 11, 2013 - 15:28

      Why spend taxpayer money on a problem that will persist no matter how many stings there are?Stings cost mucho dollars.Dollars that would be better spent on more violent offenders like rapists,child molesters,Drug dealers and murderers?The police should never spend taxpayer dollars on things they can't control like prostitution.The prostitutes will just pick up and move down the road to another location and then more money will be spent on stings.It never ends.That's senseless!!It's the world's oldest profession for a reason and that's why it should be legalized and controlled by Government.The Government isn't any damn good,for the most part,at controlling anything but this is one thing they can control with a little common sense and at the same time pick up some tax money for the already overburdened taxpayer!I wonder how many people on here are all for making drugs legal while condemning Prostitution?A good number I would reckon?Dummies!!

  • wavy
    June 11, 2013 - 11:49

    It's amusing to read comments of people advocating mob vigilantism and potential slander lawsuits. Sure, let's round up a bunch of fellas, get out the pitchforks and torches and go prowl the streets at 1AM looking for hookers. Do you hear yourselves? Why should the onus be on the neighbours to do something about it in the first place, like people have nothing better to do, never mind the associated risk factors? Isn't that the RNC's job? I don't understand how "problem areas" like Livingstone and Tessier can be so well known to residents yet the cops do nothing such as step up patrols to deter the activity. It takes a brutal murder before something is done, then it's too late. These problems are all products of an apathetic, spineless, buck-passing, weak-willed system and chronic lack of leadership by those whose job it is to serve and protect the public.

  • scumbag newfie
    June 11, 2013 - 11:12

    Bring them over to my neighbor hood ba!!!

  • EDfromRED
    June 11, 2013 - 09:33

    Prostitution my be a complex issue, but it would be solved overnight if it sprung up in a wealthy neighborhood. If you have cash the cop's are at your beck and call, if not, you are thrown to the wolves.

  • Simple Answer
    June 11, 2013 - 09:31

    don't take pictures or anything like that and post it too many liability issues. just get 4 or 5 guys walk the street a bit at the height of the trade time, you see someone stopping to chat the girl, just walk up and say excuse me you need directions are you lost or may I help you I live in the area and can help. you have seen their face they will not come back. safety in numbers four or five big strapping neighbours out for a walk in your own neighbour hood, why not ask the pimp if he is lost or need directions too. hahahahaha, worked in a Calgary neighbourhood I lived in once.

  • grant
    June 11, 2013 - 09:26

    Two things that should be legelized is prostitution and pot. that would make it a lot easier for everyone, clergy, politicians, judges and so on.

  • JP
    June 11, 2013 - 08:54

    Start a neighborhood watch program, have groups of 3 to 4 people(for protection if confronted) doing regular evening patrols with camera's. You don't have to actually post the pictures, but the fear/threat of being exposed might help the prostitues/pimps/john's to find another spot to do their business. If it's a public spot, there's nothing stopping you from taking pictures of public places, if there are people stood there that don't like it, they are free to find another spot to stand in public! They are free to call police as well. Squeaky wheel gets the grease!

  • Brett
    June 11, 2013 - 08:24

    Maybe he should take pictures of the license plates + then display them in the paper. Buy a classifieds advertisement. Then the people who pick up the prostitutes would have to explain to their wives/friends/parents/siblings what they're doing. People would read the paper and see who was caught in the "act".

  • Plate
    June 11, 2013 - 08:18

    Take the john's plate number. Phone Crimestoppers. They phone the owner and ask why he was driving on Livingstone St. I doubt if he will go back again. Sadly the women will move to another spot. Citizens have to start watching what's going on around them. Try getting your neighbours out on the street at night. Could make a difference.

  • Steve
    June 11, 2013 - 08:00

    While I have every sympathy for the people living in the area, I wouldn't put licence numbers or photos of vehicles of presumed johns on the internet. It's difficult to prove why someone was driving along your street, someone could be slowing down or pulling over to answer their cell phone. Anyone who posts this on the internet had better get a good lawyer.

  • sparky
    June 11, 2013 - 06:46

    I can only imagine your problem sir, what you & your friends should do is get pictures of johns talking to & picking-up the girls & post them where ever you can: U-Tube , The Telegram , after the johns photo makes 'the rounds' most johns will be scared-off.