‘Shocked’ at sex trade in downtown Maple Ridge
Maple Ridge residents shocked by sex workers plying their trade in the district’s downtown core are calling for a crackdown on prostitution.
For Malcolm Sinclair, the situation is an embarrassment and blight on his beautiful town.
He’s seen the women working right in the middle of the downtown core, on 224th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, a block away from municipal hall. One woman jumped in his car when he stopped to pick up his girlfriend at a dentist. Their antics have even been documented by residents who’ve posted photographs on Facebook.
“I was shocked and appalled,” said Sinclair.
“The downtown looks so nice. That’s the last thing I expected to see there.” Previously the “strolls” in Maple Ridge were confined to North Avenue and streets off Lougheed Highway, but have since changed locations to the district’s business hub.
Sex trade workers have taken to soliciting customers near medical offices on Selkirk Avenue, near 223rd Street and outside the Bingoplex.
“It’s one thing if it’s out of the way,” said Sinclair.
“But to have it right in the centre of town. That’s just wrong.”
Sinclair isn’t the only person to have noticed sex trade workers in the downtown core. The Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association has also been fielding complaints about the women from its members.
“We are addressing it,” said BIA chair Phillip Hartwick.
The business improvement association has told Westridge Security, a company that patrols downtown.
“I believe summer time certainly increases the activity but it is not necessarily a new issue. We are aware of the trends and will address the issue for our membership,” Hartwick added.
Ridge Meadows RCMP however report there have been few official complaints about prostitution in the downtown core logged with their detachments in the past month, although officers are monitoring the situation.
“Prostitution is a complex problem, and enforcement isn’t the only solution,” said Insp. Dave Fleugel.
RCMP have not conducted any undercover stings recently but are trying a different approach to address the problem.
“Police know the sex trade workers are often victims, and would benefit from assistance in making different life choices,” said Fleugel.
“Our detachment continues to partner with local agencies, such as Alouette Addictions and Cythera House to offer the workers a chance to make this life style change, and when we target these crimes with enforcement, the ‘Johns’ are frequently the ones we place the emphasis on.”