Some Winnipeg residents are hoping a North End house fire that caused more than $50,000 damage will help clean up their neighbourhood.
The fire broke out around 5 a.m. in a two-storey home at the corner of Magnus Avenue and Charles Street.
“I looked out of the window and thought, ‘What’s burning? Holy Christopher!’” said Bonnie Blain, a 90-year-old woman who lives next door.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze, and now neighbours are hoping it was a blessing in disguise.
Multiple neighbours in the area say prostitutes frequently spent time on the steps of the Baptist church nearby and then conducted business inside the Magnus Avenue house.
The house is actually owned by the church and was being used as a safe haven for people struggling to get by. The church had rented it to a man who was cleaning up his life, but according to neighbours, that changed recently.
Area resident Russell Jackson said the man renting the home had turned it into a brothel.
He said he’s happy the house is out of commission, at least for a while.
“We don’t have to put up with the needles, the condoms, the sick perverts driving by our young children and our wives going to work and propositioning them,” said Jackson.
Blain has also seen the women and their Johns in the neighbourhood.
“They stand over there. They sit over there. They walk up and down,” she said.
Blain said sex-trade workers have been very active in the neighbourhood since the summer.
Jackson put up signs in the neighbourhood that said license plate numbers of Johns would be reported to police.
Blain said that helped rid the neighbourhood of a few Johns, but the prostitutes are sticking in the area.
The church is now hoping the home will never be used that way again. They’re going to fix up the building and try to offer someone else a second chance.