A new campaign will use signs and social media to discourage sex customers — or "johns" — from soliciting prostitutes along 118th Avenue.

Black signs bearing messages like "Dear 'john': We've let the police know, they have our back on this one" and "Dear 'john': Going out for milk, just giving that young girl a ride. Really" will be posted anywhere police get complaints about prostitution.


Social worker Kris Anydreychuk works with Neighbourhood Empowerment Teams, which are a partnership with the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police, the Family Centre and the United Way. (CBC)

Organizers are also encouraging the public to write messages to "john" on the Transforming Edmonton blog and on Twitter using the #dearjohn hashtag.

"We'd just like to let 'john' know not to come here anymore," said City of Edmonton social worker Kris Andreychuk, supervisor for the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team. "This community has officially broken up with him."

The campaign is the latest effort to revitalize the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood of Edmonton. In recent years, the area — anchored by 118th Avenue — has seen an influx of young families and new business owners, who are attracted to the community's low cost and central location.

However, prostitution still exists and residents worry about how it impacts the neighbourhood.

"It's really hard as a woman to walk down the street," said Cora Shaw, vice-president of the Alberta Avenue Community League. "You often get stopped. I've been stopped at bus stops, asked 'how much?'"

Police hope the "Dear john" campaign will drive the sex trade out of the neighbourhood. They also continue to encourage residents to call the "Report a john" line whenever they see people soliciting prostitutes.