Thursday, September 10, 1998

Betty Ann Adam

p. A3.

An inner city in turmoil

No easy wayto fix situation, Langford says

There is no quick fix for the prostitution and crime problems that plague Saskatoon's inner city, says the councillor who represents the area.

Coun. Anita Langford, who lives in Pleasant Hill and represents Ward 2, says she sympathizes with her neighbours who are disturbed by the sight of johns cruising the streets for prostitutes, filthy trash being deposited in their yards and vandalism and theft that has made it difficult to buy home insurance in the core neighbourhoods.

But she said Wednesday she is convinced solving the ills will require a long-term effort to stabilize the entire core area through such measures as a safe house for prostitutes and dealing with problems arising from low-rent housing in the district.

Langford and her city council colleagues spent the better part of Tuesday's council meeting dealing with passions stirred for and against a proposal from the Renew Our Community Committee (ROC), a Pleasant Hill group that wants to remove outreach vans from the area's residential areas.

Staff in the vans, one operated by Saskatoon District Health and the other by Egadz, dispense needles, condoms and advice to people in the sex trade and drug users and counsel prostitutes. ROC supporters argue the vans are aiding and abetting illegal activities in the neighbourhood.

Langford said the first thing the neighbourhood needs is a safe house where children being victimized by pimps and johns can go to escape.

Langford said she wishes residents in King George would reconsider a proposal, which some rejected last spring, that would have created a safe house there.

If they will not, the project will have to be taken to another neighbourhood, which she hopes will be more accepting of the effort to help the child victims.

While she understands the desire of some residents to rid their streets of the sex trade in any way they can, Langford cautions against simply driving the perpetrators into some other residential neighbourhood.

"Let's deal with it methodically. The only thing is relocation into another area where no one is living," she said, adding if this can be accomplished, police would have to patrol the more isolated area to protect the sex trade workers.

Langford said she and others are working to reverse a trend that has seen homeowners sell their houses at a loss to people who create numerous low-rent suites and then let them fall into disrepair, spurring the exodus of even more of the families that make a community strong.

She said she would like to see low-rent housing spread throughout the city to avoid the creation of ghettos.

The city should also consider the needs of all neighbourhoods when it builds leisure facilities, she said, noting one of the new soccer fields being planned for the city should go into Victoria Park.

The return of a community police station to Riversdale would also help to stabilize the inner city, she said. Police Chief Dave Scott said Wednesday people with differing views must get together to discuss ways to address common problems.

Scott is a member of the Safer Cities committee, to which city council referred ROC's request.

Related story, Page A10.

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Created: September 11, 1998
Last modified: February 2, 2001
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