Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) raised a fuss this week when he
resurrected the idea of licensing areas of the city for red-light districts and
said the islands shouldn't be exempt.
"The reality is, no one on council would actually support or endorse or
encourage this type of activity in our city," said Councillor Karen Stintz
(Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence). "To suggest an urban park setting as a place for
a red-light district is completely inappropriate."
Council member Kyle Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), who favours
regulating prostitution, said the problem is that communicating for the
purposes of prostitution is illegal under the federal Criminal Code. "If it's
treated as a crime, we can't license it."
Back in 1994, Toronto City Council called on Ottawa to decriminalize
prostitution, but Rae can't see the Harper Tories enacting such a law. Were
council allowed to regulate it, the city might look at designating certain
areas, Rae said. "It should be safe. It should be regulated."
Mammoliti said he's long stated that prostitution and casinos should be legal
"We're looking at new revenues. Sin taxes are probably our best bet," he told
the Star yesterday.
"Communities experience problems with prostitution. Brothels exist now. They're
known as massage parlours or holistic centres. Ninety per cent are licensed,
but they run illegal activities."
Even if prostitution remains illegal, Mammoliti said, the city can help control
it by deciding what areas could receive licences for massage parlours or
"No area of the city should be exempt" from a study on where brothels could go,
And in his ward?
"There are a lot of legal places (massage and holistic centres) in my ward
now," Mammoliti said. "But I would want to look at specific rules. I'm not sure
there are any parts of my ward that are far enough away from residences, which
would be the main criteria."
Mammoliti said council's licensing committee asked for a staff report on this
two years ago, but it was never brought forward because nobody wants to talk
They apparently still don't.
"I don't think prostitution is a big issue in the city," said Case Ootes,
councillor for Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth. "We know it goes on. We know about
escort services. But to set up a special area, it's just not going to fly.
Nobody would support it.
"As much as I don't want to do any favours for the islanders, this isn't the
solution," he said with a laugh.