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Prostitutes' drug habits keep 'hooker track ' alive
Saturday July 13, 2002

KITCHENER -- It's an age-old profession that won't go away. Prostitution in downtown Kitchener neighbourhoods comes and goes depending on police crackdowns, location of crack houses and neighbours' complaints.

"It's on a life of its own,'' said Steve Boudreau, who's lived at the corner of Church and Cedar streets for five years.

Boudreau, who has told hookers near his house to leave, said he doesn't see many prostitutes in his neighbourhood anymore.

That's because "the track" of streets where prostitutes pick up johns has moved to King Street in the area of Eby and Cameron streets and Madison and Pandora avenues.

Residents on Cameron Street and Pandora Avenue say they see crack-addicted young women walking along King Street in the early evening.

Sometimes, the women may venture off King Street, but more often it's the johns who circle around nearby streets.

"It goes in streaks,'' said Rosemarie Lecreux, who's lived on Cameron Street for 30 years.

"A couple of years ago they (women) were walking around in broad daylight,'' she said.

Tina Payton, a stay-at-home mom who lives on Cameron Street, said she saw a prostitute get into a car with a john near her house last week.

"I hadn't seen something like that for about a year,'' she said.

"It's not completely gone. It still happens,'' Payton said.

In the summer of 1999, embattled citizens, city staff and police cracked down on prostitution downtown.

Public meetings and discussions were held on how to get rid of crack houses -- a major cause of prostitution in Kitchener.

Sgt. Pete Richards of Waterloo regional police said most of the 15 or so prostitutes in Kitchener are addicted to crack.

Wherever there is a crack house, there will be prostitution, he said.

Earlier this week, police arrested two prostitutes, 20 and 30 years of age, of no fixed address. They were working on Cedar Street near King Street.

Richards said if prostitutes feel harassed in one area, they will move.

The solution is getting at slum landlords and providing proper shelter for the women so they are not out on the street feeding their drug habit.

For Karen Taylor-Harrison, a Church Street resident, the problem of prostitution is one she knows well.

She recognizes the prostitutes, some of their kids, and the johns who cruise her neighbourhood.

It's an issue the downtown advocate has been fighting for years.

In the early 1990s, she led an effort to rid her Cedar Hill neighbourhood of hookers, dealers and johns.

Taylor-Harrison said the solution is to educate johns, something she says the john school does well.

Johns hear first-hand about the impact of prostitution, in particular, the effects of sexually transmitted diseases.

"We have to comprehend the problem. We will never get rid of prostitution,'' she said.

"But in Kitchener, prostitution is a drug issue and we have to educate people and let them know she's out there to feed a drug habit,'' said Taylor-Harrison.


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