Toronto Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti is proposing a red light district on Toronto Island, arguing it would generate millions of dollars in revenue for the city and provide a defined, out-of-the-way place for sex-trade workers to ply their trade.
One of a group of small islands located a short ferry ride from downtown, Toronto Island currently serves as a park and has a small community of residents.
But Mammoliti, a member of Mayor Rob Ford's inner circle, said Toronto needs a defined area for sex-trade workers to ply their trade and argues that Toronto Island is an ideal location. A defined red-light district, Mammoliti argues, would help the cash-strapped city regulate and tax brothels.
"In an economic sense for the City of Toronto, we could probably do something that will create tourism as well," he told CBC News.
Mammoliti said he doesn't want sex-trade workers operating in residential areas. Currently, prostitutes in Toronto operate through escort agencies and in massage parlours throughout the city.
But the idea of a red-light district on Toronto Island is already raising red flags.
Red-light district 'not appropriate'
Island resident Laura Walicek sais she is shocked at the idea, and points to the community centre and the school nearby.
"Oh no, that is not appropriate," she said.
A sex-trade worker who spoke to CBC about Mammoliti's proposal also doesn't like the idea.
"Oh, I laughed so hard when I heard this," said Julie Grant, who has worked in the trade for 11 years and said she has no interest in working on "brothel island."
"It's absolutely not gonna fly."
Grant said most sex-trade workers blend into communities with no negative effects and don't need to be moved.
"[Mammoliti] doesn't want us around the regular people, I guess. I think right now we're not even noticed. We are all over the place and we don't ruin the fabric of society."
Mammoliti hasn't taken his proposal to the mayor yet. He hopes to have a report ready for city staff by the end of spring.